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"This above all, To thine own self be true; 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man.'' 


" Might I give counsel to any young man, I would say to him, 
Try to frequent the company of your betters. In books and in 
life, that is the most wholesome society ; learn to admire 
rightly ; the great pleasure of life is that. Note what great 
men admired; they admired great things; narrow spirits 
admire basely and worship meanly." W. M. THACKERAY. 









THIS is a revised edition of a book which has 
already been received with considerable 
favour at home and abroad. It has been 
reprinted in various forms in America ; translations 
have appeared in Dutch and French, and others 
are about to appear in German and Danish. The 
book has, doubtless, proved attractive to readers 
in different countries by reason of the variety of 
anecdotal illustrations of life and character which 
it contains, and the interest which all more or less 
feel in the labours, the trials, the struggles, and 
the achievements of others. No one can be better 
aware than the author of its fragmentary character, 
arising from the manner in which it was for the 
most part originally composed, having been put 
together principally from jottings made during 
many years, intended as readings for young men, 
and without any view to publication. The appear- 
ance of this edition has furnished an opportunity 
for pruning the volume of some superfluous matter, 
and introducing various new illustrations, which 
will probably be found of general interest. 

In one respect the title of the book, which it 
is now too late to alter, has proved unfortunate, 
as it has led some, who have judged it merely 


by the title, to suppose that it consists of a eulogy 
of selfishness : the very opposite of what it really 
is, or at least of what the author intended it to 
be. Although its chief object unquestionably is to 
stimulate youths to apply themselves diligently 
to right pursuits, sparing neither labour, pains, 
nor self-denial in prosecuting them, and to rely 
upon their own efforts in life, rather than depend 
upon the help or patronage of others, it will also 
be found, from the examples given of literary and 
scientific men, artists, inventors, educators, philan- 
thropists, missionaries, and martyrs, that the duty 
of helping one's self in the highest sense involves 
the helping of one's neighbours. 

It has also been objected to the book that too 
much notice is taken in it of men who have 
succeeded in life by helping themselves, and too 
little of the multitude of men who have failed. " Why 
should not Failure," it has been asked, "have its 
Plutarch as well as Success ? " There is, indeed, 
no reason why Failure should not have its Plutarch, 
except that a record of mere failure would probably 
be found excessively depressing as well as unin- 
structive reading. It is, however, shown in the 
following pages that Failure is the best discipline 
of the true worker, by stimulating him to renewed 
efforts, evoking his best powers, and carrying him 
onward in self-culture, self-control, and growth in 
knowledge and wisdom. Viewed in this light, 
Failure, conquered by Perseverance, is always 
full of interest and instruction, and this we have 
endeavoured to illustrate by many examples. 

As for Failure per se, although it may be well 
to find consolations for it at the close of life, there 


is reason to doubt whether it is an object that 
ought to be set before youth at the beginning of it. 
Indeed, "how not to do it" is of all things the 
easiest learnt : it needs neither teaching, effort, 
self-denial, industry, patience, perseverance, nor 
judgment. Besides, readers do not care to know 
about the general who lost his battles, the engineer 
whose engines blew up, the architect who designed 
only deformities, the painter who never got beyond 
daubs, the schemer who did not invent his machine, 
the merchant who could not keep out of the 
Gazette. It is true, the best of men may fail, in 
the best of causes. But even these best of men 
did not try to fail, or regard their failure as 
meritorious ; on the contrary, they tried to succeed, 
and looked upon failure as misfortune. Failure in 
any good cause is, however, honourable, whilst 
success in any bad cause is merely infamous. At 
the same time success in the good cause is un- 
questionably better than failure. But it is not the 
result in any case that is to be regarded so much 
as the aim and the effort, the patience, the courage, 
and the endeavour with which desirable and worthy 
objects are pursued ; 

" 'Tis not in mortals to command success ; 
We will do more deserve it." 

The object of the book briefly is, to re-inculcate 
these old-fashioned but wholesome lessons which 
perhaps cannot be too often urged, that youth 
must work in order to enjoy, that nothing credit- 
able can be accomplished without application and 
diligence, that the student must not be daunted 
by difficulties, but conquer them by patience and 


perseverance, and that, above all, he must seek 
elevation of character, without which capacity is 
worthless and worldly success is naught. If the 
author has not succeeded in illustrating these 
lessons, he can only say that he has failed in his 

Among the new passages introduced in the 
present edition may be mentioned the following : 
Illustrious Foreigners of Humble Origin (pp. 12, 
14), French Generals and Marshals risen from the 
Ranks (16), De Tocqueville and Mutual Help (29), 
William Lee, M.A., and the Stocking-loom (50), 
John Heathcoat, M.P., and the Bobbin-net Machine 
(56), Jacquard and his Loom (66), Vaucanson (69), 
Joshua Heilmann and the Combing-machine (74), 
Bernard Palissy and his Struggles (81), Bottgher, 
Discoverer of Hard Porcelain (95), Comte de Buffon 
as Student (123), Cuvier (151), Ambrose Pare (158), 
Claude Lorraine (189), Jacques Callot (192), Ben- 
venuto Cellini (194), Nicolas Poussin (199), Ary 
Scheffer (202), the Strutts of Belper (252), Francis 
Xavier (280), Napoleon as a Man of Business 
(325), Intrepidity of Deal Boatmen (471), besides 
numerous other passages which it is unnecessary 
to specify. 

LONDON, May, 1866. 


THE origin of this book may be briefly told. 

Some fifteen years since, the author was requested to 
deliver an address before the members of some evening classes, 
which had been formed in a northern town for mutual improve- 
ment, under the following circumstances : 

Two or three young men of the humblest rank resolved 
to meet in the winter evenings, for the purpose of improving 
themselves by exchanging knowledge with each other. Their 
first meetings were held in the room of a cottage in which one 
of the members lived ; and, as others shortly joined them, the 
place soon became inconveniently filled. When summer set 
in, they adjourned to the cottage garden outside ; and the 
classes were then held in the open air, round a little boarded 
hut used as a garden-house, in which those who officiated as 
teachers set the sums, and gave forth the lessons of the 
evening. When -the weather was fine, the youths might be 
seen, until a late hour, hanging round the door of the hut like 
a cluster of bees; but sometimes a sudden shower of rain 
would dash the sums from their slates, and disperse them for 
the evening unsatisfied. 

Winter, with its cold nights, was drawing near, and what 
were they to do for shelter ? Their numbers had by this time 
so increased, that no room of an ordinary cottage could 
accommodate them. Though they were for the most part 
young men earning comparatively small weekly wages, they 
resolved to incur the risk of hiring a room ; and, on making 


inquiry, they found a large dingy apartment to let, which had 
been used as a temporary Cholera Hospital. No tenant could 
be found for the place, which was avoided as if the plague 
still clung to it. But the mutual improvement youths, nothing 
daunted, hired the cholera room at so much a week, lit it up, 
placed a few benches and a deal table in it, and began their 
winter classes. The place soon presented a busy and cheerful 
appearance in the evenings. The teaching may have been, 
as no doubt it was, of a very rude and imperfect sort ; but it 
was done with a will. Those who knew a little taught those 
who knew less improving themselves while they improved 
the others; and, at all events, setting before them a good 
working example. Thus these youths and there were also 
grown men amongst them proceeded to teach themselves 
and each other, reading and writing, arithmetic and geography ; 
and even mathematics, chemistry, and some of the modern 

About a hundred young men had thus come together, when, 
growing ambitious, they desired to have lectures delivered to 
them ; and then it was that the author became acquainted with 
their proceedings. A party of them waited on him, for the 
purpose of inviting him to deliver an introductory address, or, 
as they expressed it, " to talk to them a bit " ; prefacing the 
request by a modest statement of what they had done and 
what they were doing. He could not fail to be touched by 
the admirable self-helping spirit which they had displayed; 
and, though entertaining but slight faith in popular lecturing, 
he felt that a few words of encouragement, honestly and 
sincerely uttered, might not be without some good effect. 
And in this spirit he addressed them on more than one 
occasion, citing examples of what other men had done, as 
illustrations of what each might, in a greater or less degree, 
do for himself; and pointing out that their happiness and well- 
being as individuals in after life must necessarily depend 
mainly upon themselves upon their own diligent self-culture, 
self-discipline, and self-control and, above all, on that honest 


and upright performance of individual duty which is the glory 
of manly character. 

There was nothing in the slightest degree new or original 
in this counsel, which was as old as the Proverbs of Solomon, 
and possibly quite as familiar. But old-fashioned though the 
advice may have been, it was welcomed. The youths went 
forward in their course ; worked on with energy and resolution ; 
and, reaching manhood, they went forth in various directions 
into the world, where many of them now occupy positions of 
trust and usefulness. Several years after the incidents referred 
to, the subject was unexpectedly recalled to the author's 
recollection by an evening visit from a young man apparently 
fresh from the work of a foundry who explained that he was 
now an employer of labour and a thriving man ; and he was 
pleased to remember with gratitude the words spoken in all 
honesty to him and to his fellow-pupils years before, and even 
to attribute some measure of his success in life to the en- 
deavours which he had made to work up to their spirit 

The author's personal interest having in this way been 
attracted to the subject of Self-Help, he was accustomed to 
add to the memoranda from which he had addressed these 
young men ; and to note down occasionally in his leisure 
evening moments, after the hours of business, the results of 
such reading, observation, and experience of life, as he con- 
ceived to bear upon it. One of the most prominent illustrations 
cited in his earlier addresses was that of George Stephenson, 
the engineer ; and the original interest of the subject, as well 
as the special facilities and opportunities which the author 
possessed for illustrating Mr. Stephenson's life and career, 
induced him to prosecute it at his leisure, and eventually to 
publish his biography. The present volume is written in a 
similar spirit, as it has been similar in its origin. The illustra. 
tive sketches of character introduced are, however, necessarily 
less elaborately treated being busts rather than full-length 
portraits, and, in many of the cases, only some striking feature 
has been noted ; the lives of individuals, as indeed of nations, 


often concentrating their lustre and interest in a few passages. 
Such as the book is, the author now leaves it in the hands 
of the reader ; in the hope that the lessons of industry, persever- 
ance, and self-culture, which it contains, will be found useful 
and instructive, as well as generally interesting. 

LONDON, September, 1859. 




Spirit of Self-Help Institutions and men Government a 
reflex of the individualism of a nation Cassarism and 
Self-Help William Dargan on Independence Patient 
labourers in all ranks Self-Help a feature in the English 
Character Power of example and of work in practi- 
cal education Value of biographies Great men belong 
to no exclusive class or rank Illustrious men sprung 
from the ranks Shakespeare Various humble origin of 
many eminent men Distinguished astronomers Emi- 
nent sons of clergymen Of attorneys Illustrious foreign- 
ers of humble origin Vauquelin, the chemist Promo- 
tions from the ranks in the French army Instances of 
persevering application and energy Joseph Brotherton 
W. J. Fox W. S. Lindsay William Jackson 
Richard Cobden Diligence indispensable to usefulness 
and distinction The wealthier ranks not all idlers Ex- 
amplesMilitary men Philosophers Men of science 
Politicians Literary men Sir Robert Peel Lord 
Brougham Lytton Disraeli Wordsworth on self- 
reliance De Tocqueville : his industry and recognition 
of the help of others Men their own best helpers . . I 


Industry of the English people Work the best educator 
Hugh Miller Poverty and toil not insurmountable 
obstacles Working men as inventors Invention of the 



steam-engine James Watt : his industry and habit of 
attention Matthew Boulton Applications of the steam- 
engine The cotton manufacture The early inventors 
Paul and Highs Arkwright : his early life Barber, 
inventor and manufacturer His influence and character 
The Peels of South Lancashire The founder of the 
family The first Sir Robert Peel, cotton-printer Lady 
Peel Rev. William Lee, inventor of the stocking-frame 
Dies abroad in misery James Lee The Nottingham 
lace manufacture John Heathcoat, inventor of the 
bobbin-net machine His early life, his ingenuity, and 
plodding perseverance Invention of his machine 
Anecdote of Lord Lyndhurst Progress of the lace-trade 
Heathcoat's machines destroyed by the Luddites His 
character Jacquard : his inventions and adventures 
Vaucanson : his mechanical genius, improvements in silk 
manufacture Jacquard improves Vaucanson's machine 
The Jacquard loom adopted Joshua Heilmann, in- 
ventor of the combing-machine History of the invention 
Its value ....... i-;V - *> 32 


Ancient pottery Etruscan ware Luca della Robbia, the 
Florentine sculptor : re-discovers the art of enamelling 
Bernard Palissy : sketch of his life and labours In- 
flamed by the sight of an Italian cup His search after 
the secret of the enamel His experiments during years 
of unproductive toil His personal and family privations 
Indomitable perseverance, burns his furniture to heat 
the furnace, and success at last Reduced to destitution 
Condemned to death, and release His writings Dies 
in the Bastille John Frederick Bottgher, the Berlin 'gold 
cook' His trick in alchemy and consequent troubles 
Flight into Saxony His detention at Dresden- 
Discovers how to make red and white porcelain The 
manufacture taken up by the Saxon Government 
Bottgher treated as a prisoner and a slave His unhappy 


end The Sevres porcelain manufactory Josiah Wedg- 
wood, the English potter Early state of English earthen- 
ware manufacture Wedgwood's indefatigable industry, 
skill, and perseverance His success The Barberini vase 
Wedgwood a national benefactor Industrial heroes . 79 


Great results attained by simple means Fortune favours the 
industrious " Genius is patience " Newton and Kepler 
Industry of eminent men Power acquired by repeated 
effort Anecdote of Sir Robert Peel's cultivation of 
memory Facility comes by practice Importance of 
patience Cheerfulness Sydney Smith Dr. Hook 
Hope an important element in character Carey the 
missionary Anecdote of Dr. Young Anecdote of 
Audubon the ornithologist Anecdote of Mr. Carlyle 
and his MS. of the 'French Revolution' Perseverance 
of Watt and Stephenson Perseverance displayed in the 
discovery of the Nineveh marbles by Rawlinson and 
Layard Comte de Buffon as student His continuous 
and unremitting labours Sir Walter Scott's perseverance 
John Britton London Samuel Drew Joseph Hume in 


No great result achieved by accident Newton's discoveries 
Dr. Young Habit of observing with intelligence 
Galileo Inventions of Brown, Watt, and Brunei acci- 
dentally suggested Philosophy in little things Apol- 
lonius Pergaeus and conic sections Franklin and Galvani 
Discovery of steam power Opportunities seized or 
made Simple and rude tools of great workers Lee and 
Stone's opportunities for learning Sir Walter Scott's 
Dr. Priestley Sir Humphry Davy Faraday Davy and 



Coleridge Cuvier Dalton's industry Examples of im- 
provement of time Daguesseau and Bentham Melanc- 
thon and Baxter Writing down observations Great 
note-makers Dr. Pye Smith John Hunter : his patient 
study of little things His great labours Ambrose Pare", 
the French surgeon Harvey Jenner Sir Charles Bell 
Dr. Marshall Hall Sir William Herschel William 
Smith, the geologist : his discoveries, his geological map 
Hugh Miller : his observant faculties John Brown and 
Robert Dick, geologists Sir Roderick Murchison : his 
industry and attainments . *".' . '/' . . 139 


Sir Joshua Reynolds on the power of industry in art Humble 
origin of eminent artists Acquisition of wealth not the 
ruling motive with artists Michael Angelo on riches 
Patient labours of Michael Angelo and Titian West's 
early success a disadvantage Richard Wilson and 
Zuccarelli Sir Joshua Reynolds, Blake, Bird, Gains- 
borough, and Hogarth, as boy artists Hogarth a 
keen observer Banks and Mulready Claude Lorraine 
and Turner : their indefatigable industry Perrier and 
Jacques C allot and their visits to Rome Callot and the 
gipsies Benvenuto Cellini, goldsmith and musician : his 
ambition to excel Casting of his statue of Perseus 
Nicolas Poussin, a sedulous student and worker Du- 
quesnoi Poussin's fame Ary Schefifer : his hindrances 
and success John Flaxman : his genius and persever- 
anceHis brave wife Their visit to Rome Francis 
Chantrey : his industry and energy David Wilkie and 
William Etty, unflagging workers Privations endured by 
artists Martin Pugin George Kemp, architect of the 
Scott monument John Gibson, Robert Thorburn, Noel 
Paton James Sharpies, the blacksmith artist : his auto- 
biography Industry of musicians Handel, Haydn, 
Beethoven, Bach, Meyerbeer Dr. Arne William 
Jackson, the self-taught composer 182 





The peerage fed from the industrial ranks Fall of old 
families : Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets The 
peerage comparatively modern Peerages originating 
with traders and merchants Richard Foley, nailmaker, 
founder of the Foley peerage Adventurous career of 
William Phipps, founder of the Normanby peerage : his 
recovery of sunken treasure Sir William Petty, founder 
of the Lansdowne peerage Jedediah Strutt, founder of 
the Belper peerage William and Edward Strutt Naval 
and military peers Peerages founded by lawyers 
Lords Tenterden and Campbell Lord Eldon : his early 
struggles and eventual success Baron Langdale 
Rewards of perseverance . 238 


Energy characteristic of the Teutonic race The foundations 
of strength of character Force of purpose Concentra- 
tion Courageous working Words of Hugh Miller and 
Fowell Buxton Power and freedom of will Words of 
Lamennais Suwarrow Napoleon and "glory" Well- 
ington and " duty" Promptitude in action Energy dis- 
played by the British in India Warren Hastings Sir 
Charles Napier : his adventure with the Indian swords- 
man The rebellion in India The Lawrences Nicholson 
The siege of Delhi Captain Hodson Missionary 
labourers Francis Xavier's missions in the East John 
Williams Dr. Livingstone John Howard Jonas Han- 
way : his career The philanthropic labours of Granville 
Sharp Position of slaves in England Result of Sharp's 
efforts Clarkson's labours Fowell Buxton : his resolute 
purpose and energy Abolition of slavery . . . 262 





Hazlitt's definition of the man of business The chief requisite 
qualities Men of genius men of business Shakespeare, 
Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Newton, Cowper, Wordsworth, 
Scott, Ricardo, Grote, J. S. Mill Labour and application 
necessary to success Lord Melbourne's advice The 
school of difficulty a good school Conditions of success 
in law The industrious architect The salutary in- 
fluence of work Consequences of contempt for arithmetic 
Dr. Johnson on the alleged injustice of "the world" 
Washington Irving's views Practical qualities necessary 
in business Importance of accuracy Charles James 
Fox Method Richard Cecil and De Witt : their des- 
patch of business Value of time Sir Walter Scott's 
advice Promptitude Economy of time Punctuality 
Firmness Tact Napoleon and Wellington as men of 
business Napoleou's attention to details The 'Napo- 
leon Correspondence' Wellington's business faculty 
Wellington in the Peninsula " Honesty the best policy ' 
Trade tries character Dishonest gains David Barclay 
a model man of business 310 


The right use of money a test of wisdom The virtue of self- 
denial Self-imposed taxes Economy necessary to inde- 
pendence Helplessness of the improvident Frugality 
an important public question Counsels of Richard 
Cobden and John Bright The bondage of the improvi- 
dent Independence attainable by working men Francis 
Horner's advice from his father Robert Burns Living 
within the means Bacon's maxim Wasters Running 
into debt Haydon's debts Fichte Dr. Johnson on debt 
John Locke The Duke of Wellington on debt 
Washington Earl St. Vincent : his protested bill Joseph 


Hume on living too high Ambition after gentility 
Napier's order to his officers in India Resistance to 
temptation Hugh Miller's case High standard of life 
necessary Proverbs on money-making and thrift 
Thomas Wright and the reclamation of criminals Mere 
money-making John Foster Riches no proof of worth 
All honest industry honourable The power of money 
over-estimated Joseph Brotherton True Respectability 
Lord Collingwood 341 


Sir W. Scott and Sir B. Brodie on self-culture Dr. Arnold's 
spirit Active employment salutary Malthus's advice to 
his son Importance of physical health Hodson, of 
" Hodson's Horse " Dr. Channing Early labour 
Training in use of tools Healthiness of great men Sir 
Walter Scott's athletic sports Barrow, Fuller, Clarke 
Labour conquers all things Words of Chatterton, Fergu- 
son, Stone, Drew Well-directed labour Opinions of Sir 
Joshua Reynolds, Fowell Buxton, Dr. Ross, F. Horner, 
Loyola, and Lord St. Leonards Thoroughness, accuracy, 
decision, and promptitude The virtue of patient labour 
The mischievous effects of " cramming " in labour- 
saving processes and multifarious reading The right use 
of knowledge Books may impart learning, but well- 
applied knowledge and experience only exhibit wisdom 
The Magna Charta men Brindley, Stephenson, 
Hunter, and others, not book-learned, yet great Self- 
respect Jean Paul Richter Knowledge as a means of 
rising Base views of the value of knowledge Ideas of 
Bacon and Southey Douglas Jerrold on comic literature 
Danger of immoderate love of pleasure Benjamin 
Constant : his high thinking and low living Thierry : his 
noble character Coleridge and Southey Robert Nicoll 
on Coleridge Charles James Fox on perseverance The 
wisdom and strength acquired through failure Hunter, 
Rossini, Davy, Mendelssohn The uses of difficulty and 
adversity Lyndhurst, D'Alembert, Carissimi, Reynolds, 



and Henry Clay on persistency Curran on honest poverty 
Struggles with difficulties : Alexander Murray, William 
Chambers, Cobbett The French stonemason turned 
professor Sir Samuel Romilly as a self-cultivator John 
Leyden's perseverance Professor Lee : his perseverance 
and his attainments as a linguist Late learners : Spel- 
man, Franklin, Dryden, Scott, Boccaccio, Arnold, and 
others Illustrious dunces : Generals Grant, Stonewall 
Jackson, John Howard, Davy, and others Story of a 
dunce Success depends on perseverance . . . 369 


Example a potent instructor Influence of conduct Parental 
example All acts have their train of consequences 
Disraeli on Cobden Words of Babbage Human re- 
sponsibility Every person owes a good example to others 
Doing, not saying Mrs. Chisholm Dr. Guthrie and 
John Pounds Good models of conduct The company 
of our betters Francis Homer's views on personal inter- 
course The Marquis of Lansdowne and Malesherbes 
Fowell Buxton and the Gurney family Personal in- 
fluence of John Sterling Influence of artistic genius upon 
others Example of the brave an inspiration to the timid 
Biography valuable as forming high models of char- 
acter Lives influenced by biography Romilly, Franklin, 
Drew, Alfieri, Loyola, Wolff, Horner, Reynolds 
Examples of cheerfulness Dr. Arnold's influence over 
others Career of Sir John Sinclair .... 423 


Character a man's best possession Character of Francis 
Horner Franklin Character is power The higher 
qualities of character Lord Erskine's rules of conduct 
A high standard of life necessary Truthfulness 
Wellington's character of Peel Be what you seem 


Integrity and honesty of action Importance of habits 
Habits constitute character Growth of habit in youth 
Words of Robertson of Brighton Manners and morals 
Civility and kindness Anecdote of Abernethy True 
politeness Great-hearted men of no exclusive rank or 
class William and Charles Grant, the "Brothers 
Cheeryble " The true gentleman Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald Honour, probity, rectitude The gentleman will 
not be bribed Anecdotes of Hanway, Wellington, 
Wellesley, and Sir C. Napier The poor in purse may be 
rich in spirit A noble peasant Intrepidity of Deal boat- 
men Anecdotes of the Emperor of Austria and of two 
English navvies Truth makes the success of the gentle- 
man Courage and gentleness Gentlemen in India 
Outram, Henry Lawrence Lord Clyde The private 
soldiers at Agra The wreck of the Birkenhead Use of 
power, the test of the Gentleman Sir Ralph Abercromby 
Fuller's character of Sir Francis Drake . . . 449 

INDEX , 481 




JOHN FLAXMAN . . ., ^ J i V '^V ". ,, I>8 



LORD NELSON ........ ,,324 




"The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals 
composing it." -J, S. Mill. 

"We put too much faith in systems, and look too little to men." 
B. Disraeli, 

" T T EAVEN helps those who help themselves " 
1 1 is a well-tried maxim, embodying in a 
small compass the results of vast human 
experience. The spirit of self-help is the root of 
all genuine growth in the individual ; and, exhibited 
in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source 
of national vigour and strength. Help from without 
is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from 
within invariably invigorates. Whatever is done 
for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away 
the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves ; 
and where men are subjected to over-guidance 
and over-government, the inevitable tendency is 
to render them comparatively helpless. 

Even the best institutions can give a man no 



active help. Perhaps the most they can do is to 
leave him free to develop himself and improve his 
individual condition. But in all times men have 
been prone to believe that their happiness and 
well-being were to be secured by means of institu- 
tions rather than by their own conduct. Hence 
the value of legislation as an agent in human ad- 
vancement has usually been much over-estimated. 
To constitute the millionth part of a Legislature, 
by voting for one or two men once in three or five 
years, however conscientiously this duty may be 
performed, can exercise but little active influence 
upon any man's life and character. Moreover, it 
is every day becoming more clearly understood, 
that the function of Government is negative and 
restrictive, rather than positive and active; being 
resolvable principally into protection protection 
of life, liberty, and property. Laws, wisely ad- 
ministered, will secure men in the enjoyment of 
the fruits of their labour, whether of mind or body, 
at a comparatively small personal sacrifice ; but no 
laws, however stringent, can make the idle indus- 
trious, the thriftless provident, or the drunken 
sober. Such reforms can only be effected by 
means of individual action, economy, and self- 
denial; by better habits, rather than by greater 

The Government of a nation itself is usually 
found to be but the reflex of the individuals com- 
posing it. The Government that is ahead of the 
people will inevitably be dragged down to their 
level, as the Government that is behind them will 
in the long run be dragged up. In the order of 
nature, the collective character of a nation will as 
surely find its befitting results in its law and 


government, as water finds its own level. The 
noble people will be nobly ruled, and the ignorant 
and corrupt ignobly. Indeed, all experience serves 
to prove that the worth and strength of a State 
depend far less upon the form of its institutions 
than upon the character of its men. For the nation 
is only an aggregate of individual conditions, and 
civilization itself is but a question of the personal 
improvement of the men, women, and children of 
whom society is composed. 

National progress is the sum of individual in- 
dustry, energy, and uprightness, as national decay 
is of individual idleness, selfishness, and vice. 
What we are accustomed to decry as great social 
evils, will, for the most part, be found to be but 
the outgrowth of man's own perverted life ; and 
though we may endeavour to cut them down and 
extirpate them by means of Law, they will only 
spring up again with fresh luxuriance in some 
other form, unless the conditions of personal life 
and character are radically improved. If this view 
be correct, then it follows that the highest patriotism 
and philanthropy consist, not so much in altering 
laws and modifying institutions, as in helping 
and stimulating men to elevate and improve them- 
selves by their own free and independent individual 

It may be of comparatively little consequence 
how a man is governed from without, whilst every- 
thing depends upon how he governs himself from 
within. The greatest slave is not he who is ruled 
by a despot, great though that evil be, but he 
who is the thrall of his own moral ignorance, 
selfishness, and vice. Nations who are thus en- 
slaved at heart cannot be freed by any mere 


changes of masters or of institutions ; and so long 
as the fatal delusion prevails, that liberty solely 
depends upon and consists in government, so 
long will such changes, no matter at what cost 
they may be effected, have as little practical and 
lasting result as the shifting of the figures in a 
phantasmagoria. The solid foundations of liberty 
must rest upon individual character ; which is also 
the only sure guarantee for social security and 
national progress. John Stuart Mill truly observes 
that "even despotism does not produce its worst 
effects so long as individuality exists under it; 
and whatever crushes individuality ts despotism, 
by whatever name it be called." 

Old fallacies as to human progress are con- 
stantly turning up. Some call for Caesars, others 
for Nationalities, and others for Acts of Parliament. 
We are to wait for Caesars, and when they are 
found, "happy the people who recognize and 
follow them." * This doctrine shortly means, 
everything for the people, nothing by them, a 
doctrine which, if taken as a guide, must, by de- 
stroying thelfree conscience of a community, speedily 
prepare the way for any form of despotism. 
Caesarism is human idolatry in its worst form 
a worship of mere power, as degrading in its 
effects as the worship of mere wealth would be. 
A far healthier doctrine to inculcate among the 
nations would be that of Self-Help ; and so soon 
as it is thoroughly understood and carried into 
action, Caesarism will be no more. The two prin- 
ciples are directly antagonistic; and what Victor 
Hugo said of the Pen and the Sword alike applies 
to them, " Ceci tuera cela." [This will kill that.'] 
* Napoleon III., 'Life of Caesar.' 


The power of Nationalities and Acts of Parlia- 
ment is also a prevalent superstition. What 
William Dargan, one of Ireland's truest patriots, 
said at the closing of the first Dublin Industrial 
Exhibition, may well be quoted now. " To tell 
the truth," he said, " I never heard the word inde- 
pendence mentioned that my own country and 
my own fellow townsmen did not occur to my mind. 
I have heard a great deal about the independence 
that we were to get from this, that, and the other 
place, and of the great expectations we were to 
have from persons from other countries coming 
amongst us. Whilst I value as much as any man 
the great advantages that must result to us from that 
intercourse, I have always been deeply impressed 
with the feeling that our industrial independence 
is dependent upon ourselves. I believe that with 
simple industry and careful exactness in the 
utilization of our energies, we never had a fairer 
chance nor a brighter prospect than the present. 
We have made a step, but perseverance is the great 
agent of success ; and if we but go on zealously, 
I believe in my conscience that in a short period 
we shall arrive at a position of equal comfort, of 
equal happiness, and of equal independence, with 
that of any other people." 

All nations have been made what they are by 
the thinking and the working of many generations 
of men. Patient and persevering labourers in all 
ranks and conditions of life, cultivators of the soil 
and explorers of the mine, inventors and dis- 
coverers, manufacturers, mechanics and artisans, 
poets, philosophers, and politicians, all have con- 
tributed towards the grand result, one generation 
building upon another's labours, and carrying them 


forward to still higher stages. This constant 
succession of noble workers the artisans of 
civilization has served to create order out of chaos 
in industry, science, and art ; and the living race 
has thus, in the course of nature, become the 
inheritor of the rich estate provided by the skill 
and industry of our forefathers, which is placed 
in our hands to cultivate, and to hand down, not 
only unimpaired but improved, to our successors. 

The spirit of self-help, as exhibited in the 
energetic action of individuals, has in all times 
been a marked feature in the English character, 
and furnishes the true measure of our power as 
a nation. Rising above the heads of the mass, 
there were always to be found a series of individuals 
distinguished beyond others, who commanded the 
public homage. But our progress has also been 
owing to multitudes of smaller and less known 
men. Though only the generals' names may be 
remembered in the history of any great campaign, 
it has been in a great measure through the individual 
valour and heroism of the privates that victories 
have been won. And life, too, is "a soldiers' 
battle," men in the ranks having in all times been 
amongst the greatest of workers. Many are the 
lives of men unwritten, which have nevertheless 
as powerfully influenced civilization and progress 
as the more fortunate Great whose names are 
recorded in biography. Even the humblest person, 
who sets before his fellows an example of industry, 
sobriety, and upright honesty of purpose in life, 
has a present as well as a future influence upon 
the well-being of his country ; for his life and 
character pass unconsciously into the lives of others, 
and propagate good example for all time to come. 


Daily experience shows that it is energetic 
individualism which produces the most powerful 
effects upon the life and action of others, and 
really constitutes the best practical education. 
Schools, academies, and colleges, give but the 
merest beginnings of culture in comparison with 
it. Far more influential is the life-education daily 
given in our homes, in the streets, behind counters, 
in workshops, at the loom and the plough, in 
counting-houses and manufactories, and in the busy 
haunts of men. This is that finishing instruction 
as members of society, which Schiller designated 
" the education of the human race," consisting in 
action, conduct, self-culture, self-control, all that 
tends to discipline a man truly, and fit him for the 
proper performance of the duties and business 
of life, a kind of education not to be learnt from 
books, or acquired by any amount of mere literary 
training. With his usual weight of words Bacon 
observes, that " Studies teach not their own use ; 
but that is a wisdom without them, and above 
them, won by observation"; a remark that holds 
true of actual life, as well as of the cultivation of 
the intellect itself. For all experience serves to 
illustrate and enforce the lesson, that a man perfects 
himself by work more than by reading, that it is 
life rather than literature, action rather than study, 
and character rather than biography, which tend 
perpetually to renovate mankind. 

Biographies of great, but especially of good 
men, are nevertheless most instructive and useful, 
as helps, guides, and incentives to others. Some 
of the best are almost equivalent to gospels 
teaching high living, high thinking, and energetic 
action for their own and the world's good. The 


valuable examples which they furnish of the power 
of self-help, of patient purpose, resolute working, 
and steadfast integrity, issuing in the formation 
of truly noble and manly character, exhibit, in 
language not to be misunderstood, what it is in 
the power of each to accomplish for himself; and 
eloquently illustrate the efficacy of self-respect 
and self-reliance in enabling men of even the 
humblest rank to work out for themselves an 
honourable competency and a solid reputation. 

Great men of science, literature, and art apos- 
tles of great thoughts and lords of the great heart 
have belonged to no exclusive class nor rank in 
life. They have come alike from colleges, work- 
shops, and farmhouses, from the huts of poor men 
and the mansions of the rich. Some of God's greatest 
apostles have come from " the ranks." The poorest 
have sometimes taken the highest places ; nor have 
difficulties apparently the most insuperable proved 
obstacles in their way. Those very difficulties, 
in many instances, would ever seem to have been 
their best helpers, by evoking their powers of 
labour and endurance, and stimulating into life 
faculties which might otherwise have lain dormant. 
The instances of obstacles thus surmounted, and 
of triumphs thus achieved, are indeed so numerous, 
as almost to justify the proverb that "with Will 
one can do anything." Take, for instance, the 
remarkable fact, that from the barber's shop came 
Jeremy Taylor, the most poetical of divines; Sir 
Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning- 
jenny and founder of the cotton manufacture; 
Lord Tenterden, one of the most distinguished of 
Lord Chief Justices; and Turner, the greatest 
among landscape painters. 


No one knows to a certainty what Shakespeare 
was ; but it is unquestionable that he sprang from 
a humble rank. His father was a butcher and 
grazier ; and Shakespeare himself is supposed to 
have been in early life a woolcomber ; whilst others 
aver that he was an usher in a school and after- 
wards a scrivener's clerk. He truly seems to have 
been "not one, but all mankind's epitome." For 
such is the accuracy of his sea phrases that a naval 
writer alleges that he must have been a sailor; 
whilst a clergyman infers, from internal evidence 
in his writings, that he was probably a parson's 
clerk ; and a distinguished judge of horse-flesh in- 
sists that he must have been a horse-dealer. Shake- 
speare was certainly an actor, and in the course 
of his life "played many parts," gathering his 
wonderful stores of knowledge from a wide field 
of experience and observation. In any event, he 
must have been a close student and a hard worker ; 
and to this day his writings continue to exercise 
a powerful influence on the formation of English 

The common class of day [labourers has given 
us Brindley the engineer, Cook the navigator, and 
Burns the poet. Masons and bricklayers can boast 
of Ben Jonson, who worked at the building of 
Lincoln's Inn, with a trowel in his hand and 
a book in his pocket, Edwards and Telford the 
engineers, Hugh Miller the geologist, and Allan 
Cunningham the writer and sculptor; whilst among 
distinguished carpenters we find the names of 
Inigo Jones the architect, Harrison the chrono- 
meter-maker, John Hunter the physiologist, 
Romney and Opie the painters, Professor Lee the 
Orientalist, and John Gibson the sculptor. 


From the weaver class have sprung Simson the 
mathematician, Bacon the sculptor, the two Milners, 
Adam Walker, John Foster, Wilson the ornitho- 
logist, Dr. Livingstone the missionary traveller, 
and Tannahill the poet. Shoemakers have given 
us Sir Cloudesley Shovel the great admiral, 
Sturgeon the electrician, Samuel Drew the essayist, 
Gifford the editor of the ' Quarterly Review,' Bloom- 
field the poet, and William Carey the missionary ; 
whilst Morrison, another laborious missionary, was 
a maker of shoe-lasts. Within the last few years, 
a profound naturalist has been discovered in the 
person of a shoemaker at Banff, named Thomas 
Edwards, who, while maintaining himself by his 
trade, has devoted his leisure to the study of 
natural science in all its branches, his researches 
in connexion with the smaller crustaceae having 
been rewarded by the discovery of a new species, 
to which the name of " Praniza Edwardsii " has 
been given by naturalists. 

Nor have tailors been undistinguished. John 
Stow, the historian, worked at the trade during 
some part of his life. Jackson, the painter, made 
clothes until he reached manhood. The brave Sir 
John Hawkswood, who so greatly distinguished him- 
self at Poictiers, and was knighted by Edward III. 
for his valour, was in early life apprenticed to a 
London tailor. Admiral Hobson, who broke the 
boom at Vigo in 1702, belonged to the same calling. 
He was working as a tailor's apprentice near Bon- 
church, in the Isle of Wight, when the news flew 
through the village that a squadron of men-of-war 
was sailing off the island. He sprang from the 
shopboard, and ran down with his comrades to the 
beach, to gaze upon the glorious sight. The boy 


was suddenly inflamed with the ambition to be a 
sailor; and springing into a boat, he rowed off to 
the squadron, gained the admiral's ship, and was 
accepted as a volunteer. Years after, he returned 
to his native village full of honours, and dined off 
bacon and eggs in the cottage where he had worked 
as an apprentice. But the greatest tailor of all 
is unquestionably Andrew Johnson, the present 
President of the United States a man of extra- 
ordinary force of character and vigour of intellect. 
In his great speech at Washington, when describing 
himself as having begun his political career as an 
alderman, and run through all the branches of the 
legislature, a voice in the crowd cried, "From a 
tailor up." It was characteristic of Johnson to take 
the intended sarcasm in good part, and even to turn 
it to account. " Some gentleman says I have been 
a tailor. That does not disconcert me in the least ; 
for when I was a tailor I had the reputation of being 
a good one, and making close fits; I was always 
punctual with my customers, and always did good 

Cardinal Wolsey, De Foe, Akenside, and Kirke 
White were the sons of butchers ; Bunyan was a 
tinker, and Joseph Lancaster a basket-maker. 
Among the great names identified with the in- 
vention of the steam-engine are those of Newcomen, 
Watt, and Stephenson; the first a blacksmith, 
the second a maker of mathematical instruments, 
and the third an engine-fireman. Huntingdon the 
preacher was originally a coalheaver, and Bewick, 
the father of wood-engraving, a coalminer. Dodsley 
was a footman, and Holcroft a groom. Baffin the 
navigator began his seafaring career as a man 
before the mast, and Sir Cloudesley Shovel as a 


cabin-boy. Herschel played the oboe in a military 
band. Chantrey was a journeyman carver, Etty a 
journeyman printer, and Sir Thomas Lawrence the 
son of a tavern-keeper. Michael Faraday, the son 
of a blacksmith, was in early life apprenticed to 
a bookbinder, and worked at that trade until he 
reached his twenty-second year : he now occupies 
the very first rank as a philosopher, excelling even 
his master, Sir Humphry Davy, in the art of lucidly 
expounding the most difficult and abstruse points 
in natural science. 

Among those who have given the greatest im- 
pulse to the sublime science of astronomy, we find 
Copernicus, the son of a Polish baker ; Kepler, the 
son of a German public-house keeper, and himself 
the "gar^on de cabaret"; d'Alembert, a foundling 
picked up one winter's night on the steps of the 
church of St. Jean le Rond at Paris, and brought 
up by the wife of a glazier; and Newton and 
Laplace, the one the son of a small freeholder near 
Grantham, the other the son of a poor peasant of 
Beaumont-en-Auge, near Honfleur. Notwithstand- 
ing their comparatively adverse circumstances in 
early life, these distinguished men achieved a solid 
and enduring reputation by the exercise of their 
genius, which all the wealth in the world could not 
have purchased. The very possession of wealth 
might indeed have proved an obstacle greater even 
than the humble means to which they were born. 
The father of Lagrange, the astronomer and 
mathematician, held the office of Treasurer of War 
at Turin ; but having ruined himself by speculations, 
his family were reduced to comparative poverty. 
To this circumstance Lagrange was in after life 
accustomed partly to attribute his own fame and 


happiness. " Had I been rich," said he, " I should 
probably not have become a mathematician." 

The sons of clergymen and ministers of religion 
generally have particularly distinguished them- 
selves in our country's history. Amongst them we 
find the names of Drake and Nelson, celebrated in 
naval heroism ; of Wollaston, Young, Playfair, and 
Bell, in science; of Wren, Reynolds, Wilson, and 
Wilkie, in art ; of Thurlow and Campbell, in law ; 
and of Addison, Thomson, Goldsmith, Coleridge, 
and Tennyson, in literature. Lord Hardinge, 
Colonel Edwardes, and Major Hodson, so honour- 
ably known in Indian warfare, were also the sons 
of clergymen. Indeed, the empire of England in 
India was won and held chiefly by men of the 
middle class such as Clive, Warren Hastings, 
and their successors men for the most part bred 
in factories and trained to habits of business. 

Among the sons of attorneys we find Edmund 
Burke, Smeaton the engineer, Scott and Words- 
worth, and Lords Somers, Hardwick, and Dunning. 
Sir William Blackstone was the posthumous 
son of a silk-mercer. Lord Gifford's father was 
a grocer at Dover ; Lord Denman's a physician ; 
Judge Talfourd's a country brewer ; and Lord Chief 
Baron Pollock's a celebrated saddler at Charing 
Cross. Layard, the discoverer of the monuments 
of Nineveh, was an articled clerk in a London 
solicitor's office; and Sir William Armstrong, the 
inventor of hydraulic machinery and of the Arm- 
strong ordnance, was also trained to the law and 
practised for some time as an attorney. Milton 
was the son of a London scrivener, and Pope and 
Southey were the sons of linendrapers. Professor 
Wilson was the son of a Paisley manufacturer, 


and Lord Macaulay of an African merchant. Keats 
was a druggist, and Sir Humphry Davy a country 
apothecary's apprentice. Speaking of himself, Davy 
once said, "What I am I have made myself: I 
say this without vanity, and in pure simplicity of 
heart." Richard Owen, the Newton of Natural 
History, began life as a midshipman, and did not 
enter upon the line of scientific research, in which 
he has since become so distinguished, until com- 
paratively late in life. He laid the foundations of 
his great knowledge while occupied in cataloguing 
the magnificent museum accumulated by the in- 
dustry of John Hunter, a work which occupied 
him at the College of Surgeons during a period 
of about ten years. 

Foreign not less than English biography abounds 
in illustrations of men who have glorified the lot 
of poverty by their labours and their genius. In 
Art we find Claude, the son of a pastrycook ; Geefs, 
of a baker ; Leopold Robert, of a watchmaker ; 
and Haydn, of a wheelwright ; whilst Daguerre 
was a scene-painter at the Opera. The father of 
Gregory VII. was a carpenter; of Sextus V., a 
shepherd ; and of Adrian VI., a poor bargeman. 
When a boy, Adrian, unable to pay for a light 
by which to study, was accustomed to prepare his 
lessons by the light of the lamps in the streets and 
the church porches, exhibiting a degree of patience 
and industry which were the certain forerunners 
of his future distinction. Of like humble origin 
were Hauy, the mineralogist, who was the son of a 
weaver of Saint-Just ; Hautefeuille, the mechanician, 
of a baker at Orleans ; Joseph Fourier, the mathe- 
matician, of a tailor at Auxerre ; Durand, the 
architect, of a Paris shoemaker; and Gesner, the 


naturalist, of a skinner or worker in hides, at 
Zurich. This last began his career under all the 
disadvantages attendant on poverty, sickness, and 
domestic calamity ; none of which, however, were 
sufficient to damp his courage or hinder his pro- 
gress. His life was indeed an eminent illustration 
of the truth of the saying, that those who have 
most to do and are willing to work, will find the 
most time. Pierre Ramus was another man of like 
character. He was the son of poor parents in 
Picardy, and when a boy was employed to tend 
sheep. But not liking the occupation he ran away 
to Paris. After encountering much misery, he 
succeeded in entering the College of Navarre as 
a servant. The situation, however, opened for him 
the road to learning, and he shortly became one 
of the most distinguished men of his time. 

The chemist Vauquelin was the son of a peasant 
of Saint-Andre-d'Herbetot, in the Calvados. When 
a boy at school, though poorly clad, he was full 
of bright intelligence ; and the master, who taught 
him to read and write, when praising him for his 
diligence, used to say, "Go on, my boy; work, 
study, Colin, and one day you will go as well 
dressed as the parish churchwarden ! " A country 
apothecary who visited the school admired the 
robust boy's arms, and offered to take him into his 
laboratory to pound his drugs, to which Vauquelin 
assented, in the hope of being able to continue his 
lessons. But the apothecary would not permit him 
to spend any part of his time in learning ; and on 
ascertaining this, the youth immediately determined 
to quit his service. He therefore left Saint-Andre 
and took the road for Paris with his havresac on 
his back. Arrived there, he searched for a place 


as apothecary's boy, but could not find one. Worn 
out by fatigue and destitution, Vauquelin fell ill 
and in that state was taken to the hospital, where 
he thought he should die. But better things were 
in store for the poor boy. He recovered, and again 
proceeded in search of employment, which he at 
length found with an apothecary. Shortly after, 
he became known to Fourcroy the eminent chemist, 
who was so pleased with the youth that he made 
him his private secretary; and many years after, 
on the death of that great philosopher, Vauquelin 
succeeded him as Professor of Chemistry. Finally, 
in 1829, the electors of the district of Calvados 
appointed him their representative in the Chamber 
of Deputies, and he re-entered in triumph the 
village which he had left so many years before, 
so poor and so obscure. 

England has no parallel instances to show, of 
promotions from the ranks of the army to the 
highest military offices, which have been so 
common in France since the first Revolution. 
" La carriere ouverte aux talents " has there re- 
ceived many striking illustrations, which would 
doubtless be matched among ourselves were the 
road to promotion as open. Hoche, Humbert, and 
Pichegru, began their respective careers as private 
soldiers. Hoche, while in the King's army, was 
accustomed to embroider waistcoats to enable him 
to earn money wherewith to purchase books on 
military science. Humbert was a scapegrace when 
a youth ; at sixteen he ran away from home, and 
was by turns servant to a tradesman at Nancy, a 
workman at Lyons, and a hawker of rabbit skins. 
In 1792 he enlisted as a volunteer; and in a year 
he was general of brigade. Kleber, Lefevre, Suchet, 


Victor, Lannes, Soult, Massena, St. Cyr, D'Erlon, 
Murat, Augereau, Bessieres, and Ney, all rose from 
the ranks. In some cases promotion was rapid, 
in others it was slow. St. Cyr, the son of a 
tanner of Toul, began life as an actor, after which 
he enlisted in the Chasseurs, and was promoted 
to a captaincy within a year. Victor, Due de 
Belluno, enlisted in the Artillery in 1781 : during 
the events preceding the Revolution he was dis- 
charged ; but immediately on the outbreak of war 
he re-enlisted, and in the course of a few months 
his intrepidity and ability secured his promotion 
as Adjutant-Major and chief of battalion. Murat, 
"le beau sabreur," was the son of a village inn- 
keeper in Perigord, where he looked after the 
horses. He first enlisted in a regiment of Chas- 
seurs, from which he was dismissed for insub- 
ordination : but again enlisting, he shortly rose to 
the rank of Colonel. Ney enlisted at eighteen in 
a Hussar regiment, and gradually advanced step 
by step ; Kleber soon discovered his merits, sur- 
naming him " The Indefatigable," and promoted 
him to be Adjutant-General when only twenty-five. 
On the other hand, Soult * was six years from the 
date of his enlistment before he reached the rank 
of sergeant. But Soult's advancement was rapid 
compared with that of Massena, who served for 
fourteen years before he was made sergeant ; and 
though he afterwards rose successively, step by 
step, to the grades of Colonel, General of Division, 

* Soult received but little education in his youth, and learnt 
next to no geography until he became foreign minister of France, 
when the study of this branch of knowledge is said to have given 
him the greatest pleasure. '(Euvres, &c., d'Alexis de Tocqueville. 
Par G. de Beaumont.' Paris, 1861. I. 52. 



and Marshal, he declared that the post of sergeant 
was the step which of all others had cost him 
the most labour to win. Similar promotions from 
the ranks, in the French army, have continued 
down to our own day. Changarnier entered the 
King's bodyguard as a private in 1815. Marshal 
Bugeaud served four years in the ranks, after which 
he was made an officer. Marshal Randon, the 
present French Minister of War, began his military 
career as a drummer boy; and in the portrait of 
him in the gallery at Versailles, his hand rests 
upon a drum-head, the picture being thus painted 
at his own request. Instances such as these inspire 
French soldiers with enthusiasm for their service, 
as each private feels that he may possibly carry 
the baton of a marshal in his knapsack. 

The instances of men, in this and other countries, 
who, by dint of persevering application and energy, 
have raised themselves from the humblest ranks 
of industry to eminent positions of usefulness and 
influence in society, are indeed so numerous that 
they have long ceased to be regarded as exceptional. 
Looking at some of the more remarkable, it might 
almost be said that early encounter with difficulty 
and adverse circumstances was the necessary and 
indispensable condition of success. The British 
House of Commons has always contained a con- 
siderable number of such self-raised men fitting 
representatives of the industrial character of the 
people ; and it is to the credit of our Legislature 
that they have been welcomed and honoured 
there. When the late Joseph Brotherton, member 
for Salford, in the course of the discussion on 
the Ten Hours Bill, detailed with true pathos the 
hardships and fatigues to which he had been 


subjected when working as a factory boy in a 
cotton mill, and described the resolution which 
he had then formed, that if ever it was in his 
power he would endeavour to ameliorate the con- 
dition of that class, Sir James Graham rose immedi- 
ately after him, and declared, amidst the cheers 
of the House, that he did not before know that 
Mr. Brotherton's origin had been so humble, but 
that it rendered him more proud than he had ever 
before been of the House of Commons, to think 
that a person risen from that condition should 
be able to sit side by side, on equal terms, with 
the hereditary gentry of the land. 

The late Mr. Fox, member for Oldham, was 
accustomed to introduce his recollections of past 
times with the words, "When I was working as 
a weaver boy at Norwich " ; and there are other 
members of Parliament, still living, whose origin 
has been equally humble. Mr. Lindsay, the well- 
know ship-owner, until recently member for 
Sunderland, once told the simple story of his 
life to the electors of Weymouth, in answer to an 
attack made upon him by his political opponents. 
He had been left an orphan at fourteen, and when 
he left Glasgow for Liverpool to push his way 
in the world, not being able to pay the usual 
fare, the captain of the steamer agreed to take his 
labour in exchange, and the boy worked his passage 
by trimming the coals in the coal hole. At Liver- 
pool he remained for seven weeks before he could 
obtain employment, during which time he lived 
in sheds and fared hardly ; until at last he found 
shelter on board a West Indiaman. He entered 
as a boy, and before he was nineteen, by steady 
good conduct he had risen to the command of a 


ship. At twenty-three he retired from the sea, 
and settled on shore, after which his progress was 
rapid. " He had prospered," he said, " by steady 
industry, by constant work, and by ever keeping 
in view the great principle of doing to others as 
you would be done by." 

The career of Mr. William Jackson, of Birken- 
head, the present member for North Derbyshire, 
bears considerable resemblance to that of Mr. 
Lindsay. His father, a surgeon at Lancaster, died, 
leaving a family of eleven children, of whom 
William Jackson was the seventh son. The elder 
boys had been well educated while the father lived, 
but at his death the younger members had to shift 
for themselves. William, when under twelve 
years old, was taken from school, and put to hard 
work at a ship's side from six in the morning till 
nine at night. His master falling ill, the boy was 
taken into the counting-house, where he had more 
leisure. This gave him an opportunity of reading, 
and having obtained access to a set of the ' Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica,' he read the volumes through 
from A to Z, partly by day, but chiefly at night. 
He afterwards put himself to a trade, was diligent, 
and succeeded in it. Now he has ships sailing on 
almost every sea, and holds commercial relations 
with nearly every country on the globe. 

Among like men of the same class may be 
ranked the late Richard Cobden, whose start in 
life was equally humble. The son of a small 
farmer at Midhurst in Sussex, he was sent at an 
early age to London and employed as a boy in 
a warehouse in the City. He was diligent, well 
conducted, and eager for information. His master, 
a man of the old school, warned him against too 


much reading; but the boy went on in his own 
course, storing his mind with the wealth found 
in books. He was promoted from one position 
of trust to another became a traveller for his 
house secured a large connection, and eventually 
started in business as a calico printer at Manchester. 
Taking an interest in public questions, more 
especially in popular education, his attention was 
gradually drawn to the subject of the Corn Laws, 
to the repeal of which he may be said to have 
devoted his fortune and his life. It may be 
mentioned as a curious fact that the first speech 
he delivered in public was a total failure. But he 
had great perseverance, application, and energy; 
and with persistency and practice, he became at 
length one of the most persuasive and effective 
of public speakers, extorting the disinterested 
eulogy of even Sir Robert Peel himself. M. 
Drouyn de Lhuys, the French ambassador, has 
eloquently said of Mr. Cobden, that he was "a 
living proof of what merit, perseverance, and 
labour can accomplish ; one of the most complete 
examples of those men who, sprung from the 
humblest ranks of society, raise themselves to the 
highest rank in public estimation by the effect of 
their own worth and of their personal services ; 
finally, one of the rarest examples of the solid 
qualities inherent in the English character." 

In all these cases, strenuous individual appli- 
cation was the price paid for distinction ; excellence 
of any sort being invariably placed beyond the 
reach of indolence. It is the diligent hand and 
head alone that maketh rich in self-culture, growth 
in wisdom, and in business. Even when men are 
born to wealth and high social position, any solid 


reputation which they may individually achieve 
can only be attained by energetic application ; for 
though an inheritance of acres may be bequeathed, 
an inheritance of knowledge and wisdom cannot. 
The wealthy man may pay others for doing his 
work for him, but it is impossible to get his thinking 
done for him by another, or to purchase any kind 
of self-culture. Indeed, the doctrine that excellence 
in any pursuit is only to be achieved by laborious 
application, holds as true in the case of the man of 
wealth as in that of Drew and Gifford, whose only 
school was a cobbler's stall, or Hugh Miller, whose 
only college was a Cromarty stone quarry. 

Riches and ease, it is perfectly clear, are not 
necessary for man's highest culture, else had not 
the world been so largely indebted in all times to 
those who have sprung from the humbler ranks. 
An easy and luxurious existence does not train 
men to effort or encounter with difficulty ; nor does 
it awaken that consciousness of power which is so 
necessary for energetic and effective action in life. 
Indeed, so far from poverty being a misfortune, it 
may, by vigorous self-help, be converted even into 
a blessing ; rousing a man to that struggle with the 
world in which, though some may purchase ease by 
degradation, the right-minded and true-hearted find 
strength, confidence, and triumph. Bacon says, 
" Men seem neither to understand their riches nor 
their strength : of the former they believe greater 
things than they should ; of the latter much less. 
Self-reliance and self-denial will teach a man to 
drink out of his own cistern, and eat his own sweet 
bread, and to learn and labour truly to get his 
living, and carefully to expend the good things 
committed to his trust." 


Riches are so great a temptation to ease and 
self-indulgence, to which men are by nature prone, 
that the glory is all the greater of those who, born 
to ample fortunes, nevertheless take an active part 
in the work of their generation who " scorn de- 
lights and live laborious days." It is to the honour 
of the wealthier ranks in this country that they are 
not idlers ; for they do their fair share of the work 
of the state, and usually take more than their fair 
share of its dangers. It was a fine thing said of 
a subaltern officer in the Peninsular campaigns, 
observed trudging along through mud and mire by 
the side of his regiment, "There goes i5,ooo/. a 
year!" and in our own day, the bleak slopes of 
Sebastopol and the burning soil of India have borne 
witness to the like noble self-denial and devotion on 
the part of our gentler classes ; many a gallant and 
noble fellow, of rank and estate, having risked his 
life, or lost it, in one or other of those fields of action, 
in the service of his country. 

Nor have the wealthier classes been undis- 
tinguished in the more peaceful pursuits of philo- 
sophy and science. Take, for instance, the great 
names of Bacon, the father of modern philosophy, 
and of Worcester, Boyle, Cavendish, Talbot, and 
Rosse, in science. The last named may be re- 
garded as the great mechanic of the peerage; 
a man who, if he had not been born a peer, 
would probably have taken the highest rank as 
an inventor. So thorough is his knowledge of 
smith-work that he is said to have been pressed 
on one occasion to accept the foremanship of a 
large workshop, by a manufacturer to whom his 
rank was unknown. The great Rosse telescope, 
of his own fabrication, is certainly the most 


extraordinary instrument of the kind that has yet 
been constructed. 

But it is principally in the departments of politics 
and literature that we find the most energetic 
labourers amongst our higher classes. Success in 
these lines of action, as in all others, can only be 
achieved through industry, practice, and study ; and 
the great Minister, or parliamentary leader, must 
necessarily be amongst the very hardest of workers. 
Such was Palmerston; and such are Derby and 
Russell, Disraeli and Gladstone. These men have 
had the benefit of no Ten Hours Bill, but have 
often, during the busy season of Parliament, worked 
" double shift," almost day and night. One of the 
most illustrious of such workers in modern times 
was unquestionably the late Sir Robert Peel. He 
possessed in an extraordinary degree the power of 
continuous intellectual labour, nor did he spare 
himself. His career, indeed, presented a remarkable 
example of how much a man of comparatively 
moderate powers can accomplish by means of 
assiduous application and indefatigable industry. 
During the forty years that he held a seat in 
Parliament, his labours were prodigious. He was 
a most conscientious man, and whatever he under- 
took to do, he did thoroughly. All his speeches 
bear evidence of his careful study of everything 
that had been spoken or written on the subject 
under consideration. He was elaborate almost to 
excess ; and spared no pains to adapt himself to 
the various capacities of his audience. Withal, 
he possessed much practical sagacity, great strength 
of purpose, and power to direct the issues of action 
with steady hand and eye. In one respect he 
surpassed most men : his principles broadened 


and enlarged with time ; and age, instead of con- 
tracting, only served to mellow and ripen his 
nature. To the last he continued open to the 
reception of new views, and, though many thought 
him cautious to excess, he did not allow himself 
to fall into that indiscriminating admiration of the 
past, which is the palsy of many minds similarly 
educated, and renders the old age of many nothing 
but a pity. 

The indefatigable industry of Lord Brougham 
has become almost proverbial. His public labours 
have extended over a period of upwards of sixty 
years, during which he has ranged over many 
fields of law, literature, politics, and science, 
and achieved distinction in them all. How he 
contrived it, has been to many a mystery. Once, 
when Sir Samuel Romilly was requested to under- 
take some new work, he excused himself by saying 
that he had no time ; " but," he added, " go with 
it to that fellow Brougham, he seems to have 
time for everything." The secret of it was, that 
he never left a minute unemployed ; withal he 
possessed a constitution of iron. When arrived 
at an age at which most men would have retired 
from the world to enjoy their hard-earned leisure, 
perhaps to doze away their time in an easy chair, 
Lord Brougham commenced and prosecuted a 
series of elaborate investigations as to the laws 
of Light, and he submitted the results to the 
most scientific audiences that Paris and London 
could muster. About the same time, he was 
passing through the press his admirable sketches 
of the ' Men of Science and Literature of the Reign 
of George III.,' and taking his full share of the 
law business and the political discussions in the 


House of Lords. Sydney Smith once recom- 
mended him to confine himself to only the trans- 
action of so much business as three strong men 
could get through. But such was Brougham's love 
of work long become a habit that no amount 
of application seems to have been too great for 
him ; and such was his love of excellence, that 
it has been said of him that if his station in life 
had been only that of a shoe-black, he would 
never have rested satisfied until he had become 
the best shoe-black in England. 

Another hard-working man of the same class 
is Sir E. Bulwer Lytton. Few writers have done 
more, or achieved higher distinction in various 
walks as a novelist, poet, dramatist, historian, 
essayist, orator, and politician. He has worked 
his way step by step, disdainful of ease, and 
animated throughout by the ardent desire to excel. 
On the score of mere industry, there are few 
living English writers who have written so much, 
and none that have produced so much of high 
quality. The industry of Bulwer is entitled to 
all the greater praise that it has been entirely 
self-imposed. To hunt, and shoot, and live at ease, 
to frequent the clubs and enjoy the opera, with 
the variety of London visiting and sight-seeing 
during the " season," and then off to the country 
mansion, with its well-stocked preserves, and its 
thousand delightful out-door pleasures, to travel 
abroad, to Paris, Vienna, or Rome, all this is 
excessively attractive to a lover of pleasure and 
a man of fortune, and by no means calculated to 
make him voluntarily undertake continuous labour 
of any kind. Yet these pleasures, all within his 
reach, Bulwer must, as compared with men born 


to similar estate, have denied himself in assuming 
the position and pursuing the career of a literary 
man. Like Byron, his first effort was poetical 
(' Weeds and Wild Flowers '), and a failure. His 
second was a novel (' Falkland '), and it proved 
a failure too. A man of weaker nerve would have 
dropped authorship ; but Bulwer had pluck and 
perseverance ; and he worked on, determined to 
succeed. He was incessantly industrious, read 
extensively, and from failure went courageously 
onwards to success. ' Pelham ' followed ' Falkland ' 
within a year, and the remainder of Bulwer's 
literary life, now extending over a period of thirty 
years, has been a succession of triumphs. 

Mr. Disraeli affords a similar instance of the 
power of industry and application in working out 
an eminent public career. His first achievements 
were, like Bulwer's, in literature ; and he reached 
success only through a succession of failures. His 
' Wondrous Tale of Alroy ' and ' Revolutionary 
Epic' were laughed at, and regarded as indications 
of literary lunacy. But he worked on in other 
direction's, and his 'Coningsby,' 'Sybil,' and 
'Tancred,' proved the sterling stuff of which he 
was made. As an orator too, his first appearance 
in the House of Commons was a failure. It was 
spoken of as "more screaming than a Adelphi 
farce." Though composed in a grand and 
ambitious strain, every sentence was hailed with 
"loud laughter." 'Hamlet' played as a comedy 
were nothing to it. But he concluded with a 
sentence which embodied a prophecy. Writhing 
under the laughter with which his studied 
eloquence had been received, he exclaimed, "I 
have begun several times many things, and have 


succeeded in them at last. I shall sit down now, 
but the time will come when you will hear me." 
The time did come ; and how Disraeli succeeded 
in at length commanding the attention of the first 
assembly of gentlemen in the world, affords a 
striking illustration of what energy and determina- 
tion will do ; for Disraeli earned his position by 
dint of patient industry. He did not, as many 
young men do, having once failed, retire dejected, 
to mope and whine in a corner, but diligently 
set himself to work. He carefully unlearnt his 
faults, studied the character of his audience, 
practised sedulously the art of speech, and in- 
dustriously filled his mind with the elements of 
parliamentary knowledge. He worked patiently 
for success ; and it came, but slowly : then the 
House laughed with him, instead of at him. The 
recollection of his early failure was effaced, and 
by general consent he was at length admitted to 
be one of the most finished and effective of parlia- 
mentary speakers. 

Although much may be accomplished by means 
of individual industry and energy, as these and 
other instances set forth in the following pages 
serve to illustrate, it must at the same time be 
acknowledged that the help which we derive from 
others in the journey of life is of very great 
importance. The poet Wordsworth has well said 
that " these two things, contradictory though they 
may seem, must go together manly dependence 
and manly independence, manly reliance and 
manly self-reliance." From infancy to old age, 
all are more or less indebted to others for nurture 
and culture ; and the best and strongest are usually 
found the readiest to acknowledge such help. 


Take, for example, the career of the late Alexis 
de Tocqueville, a man doubly well-born, for his 
father was a distinguished peer of France, and his 
mother a grand-daughter of Malesherbes. Through 
powerful family influence, he was appointed Judge 
Auditor at Versailles when only twenty-one; but 
probably feeling that he had not fairly won the 
position by merit, he determined to give it up 
and owe his future advancement in life to himself 
alone. " A foolish resolution," some will say ; but 
De Tocqueville bravely acted it out. He resigned 
his appointment, and made arrangements to leave 
France for the purpose of travelling through the 
United States, the results of which were published 
in his great book on ! 'Democracy in America.' 
His friend and travelling companion, Gustave de 
Beaumont, has described his indefatigable industry 
during this journey. " His nature," he says, " was 
wholly averse to idleness, and whether he was 
travelling or resting, his mind was always at 
work. . . . With Alexis, the most agreeable con- 
versation was that which was the most useful. 
The worst day was the lost day, or the day ill 
spent; the least loss of time annoyed him." 
Tocqueville himself wrote to a friend " There 
is no time of life at which one can wholly cease 
from action ; for effort without one's self, and still 
more effort within, is equally necessary, if not 
more so, when we grow old, as it is in youth. 
I compare man in this world to a traveller 
journeying without ceasing towards a colder and 
colder region ; the higher he goes, the faster he 
ought to walk. The great malady of the soul is 
cold. And in resisting this formidable evil, one 
needs not only to be sustained by the action of a 


mind employed, but also by contact with one's 
fellows in the business of life." * 

Notwithstanding De Tocqueville's decided views 
as to the necessity of exercising individual energy 
and self-dependence, no one could be more ready 
than he was to recognize the value of that help and 
support for which all men are indebted to others in 
a greater or less degree. Thus, he often acknow- 
ledged, with gratitude, his obligations to his friends 
De Kergorlay and Stofells, to the former for 
intellectual assistance, and to the latter for moral 
support and sympathy. To De Kergorlay he 
wrote "Thine is the only soul in which I have 
confidence, and whose influence exercises a genuine 
effect upon my own. Many others have influence 
upon the details of my actions, but no one has so 
much influence as thou on the origination of 
fundamental ideas, and of those principles which 
are the rule of conduct." De Tocqueville was not 
less ready to confess the great obligations which 
he owed to his wife, Marie, for the preservation 
of that temper and frame of mind which enabled 
him to prosecute his studies with success. He 
believed that a noble-minded woman insensibly 
elevated the character of her husband, while one 
of a grovelling nature as certainly tended to 
degrade it.f 

* ' CEuvres et Correspondance inedite d' Alexis de Tocqueville. 
Par Gustave de Beaumont.' I. 398. 

t " I have seen," said he, "a hundred times in the course of my 
life, a weak man exhibit genuine public virtue, because supported 
by a wife who sustained him in his course, not so much by 
advising him to such and such acts, as by exercising a strength- 
ening influence over the manner in which duty or even ambition 
was to be regarded. Much oftener, however, it must be con- 
fessed, have I seen private and domestic life gradually transform 


In fine, human character is moulded by a 
thousand subtle influences ; by example and pre- 
cept; by life and literature; by friends and 
neighbours ; by the world we live in as well as 
by the spirits of our forefathers, whose legacy of 
good words and deeds we inherit. But great, 
unquestionably, though these influences are acknow- 
ledged to be, it is nevertheless equally clear that 
men must necessarily be the active agents of their 
own well-being and well-doing ; and that, however 
much the wise and the good may owe to others, 
they themselves must in the very nature of things 
be their own best helpers. 

a man to whom nature had given generosity, disinterestedness, 
and even some capacity for greatness, into an ambitious, mean- 
spirited, vulgar, and selfish creature who, in matters relating to 
his country, ended by considering them only in so far as they 
rendered his own particular condition more comfortable and easy." 
' CEuvres de Tocqueville.' II. 349. 



" Le travail et la Science sont desormais les maltres du monde." De 

" Deduct all that men of the humbler classes have done for England in 
the way of inventions only, and see where she would have been but for 
them." Arthur Helps. 

ONE of the most strongly-marked features of the 
English people is their spirit of industry, 
standing out prominent and distinct in their 
past history, and as strikingly characteristic of 
them now as at any former period. It is this spirit, 
displayed by the commons of England, which has 
laid the foundations and built up the industrial 
greatness of the empire. This vigorous growth of 
the nation has been mainly the result of the free 
energy of individuals, and it has been contingent 
upon the number of hands and minds from time 
to time actively employed within it, whether as 
cultivators of the soil, producers of articles of 
utility, contrivers of tools and machines, writers of 
books, or creators of works of art. And while this 
spirit of active industry has been the vital principle 
of the nation, it has also been its saving and remedial 
one, counteracting from time to time the effects 
of errors in our laws and imperfections in our 


The career of industry which the nation has 
pursued, has also proved its best education. As 
steady application to work is the healthiest training 
for every individual, so is it the best discipline of a 
state. ^Honourable industry travels the same road 
with duty ; and Providence has closely linked both 
with happiness.J The gods, says the poet, have 
placed labour and toil on the way leading to the 
Elysian fields. Certain it is that no bread eaten by 
man is so sweet as that earned by his own labour, 
whether bodily or mental. By labour the earth has 
been subdued, and man redeemed from barbarism ; 
nor has a single step in civilization been made 
without it. Labour is not only a necessity and a 
duty, but a blessing : only the idler feels it to be a 
curse. The duty of work is written on the thews 
and muscles of the limbs, the mechanism of the 
hand, the nerves and lobes of the brain the sum 
of whose healthy action is satisfaction and enjoy- 
ment. In the school of labour is taught the best 
practical wisdom ;fnor is a life of manual employ- 
ment, as we shall hereafter find, incompatible with 
high mental cultured] ^ 

Hugh Miller, than whom none knew better the 
strength and the weakness belonging to the lot of 
labour, stated the result of his experience to be, 
that Work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure and 
materials for self-improvement. He held honest 
labour to be the best of teachers, and that the 
school of toil is the noblest of schools save only 
the Christian one, that it is a school in which the 
ability of being useful is imparted, the spirit of 
independence learnt, and the habit of persevering 
effort acquired. He was even of opinion that the 
training of the mechanic, by the exercise which 



it gives to his observant faculties, from his daily 
dealing with things actual and practical, and the 
close experience of life which he acquires, better 
fits him for picking his way along the journey of 
life, and is more favourable to his growth as a 
Man, emphatically speaking, than the training 
afforded by any other condition. 

The array of great names which we have already 
cursorily cited, of men springing from the ranks of 
the industrial classes, who have achieved distinction 
in various walks of life in science, commerce, 
literature, and art shows that at all events the 
difficulties interposed by poverty and labour are 
not insurmountable. As respects the great con- 
trivances and inventions which have conferred 
so much power and wealth upon the nation, it is 
unquestionable that for the greater part of them 
we have been indebted to men of the humblest 
rank. Deduct what they have done in this parti- 
cular line of action, and it will be found that 
very little indeed remains for other men to have 

Inventors have set in motion some of the 
greatest industries of the world. To them society 
owes many of its chief necessaries, comforts, and 
luxuries; and by their genius and labour daily 
life has been rendered in all respects more easy 
as well as enjoyable. Our food, our clothing, the 
furniture of our homes, the glass which admits 
the light to our dwellings at the same time that 
it excludes the cold, the gas which illuminates 
our streets, our means of locomotion by land and 
by sea, the tools by which our various articles 
of necessity and luxury are fabricated, have been 
the result of the labour and ingenuity of many 


men and many minds. Mankind at large are all 
the happier for such inventions, and are every 
day reaping the benefit of them in an increase 
of individual well-being as well as of public 

Though the invention of the working steam- 
engine the king of machines belongs, com- 
paratively speaking, to our own epoch, the idea 
of it was born many centuries ago. Like other 
contrivances and discoveries, it was effected step 
by step one man transmitting the result of his 
labours, at the time apparently useless, to his 
successors, who took it up and carried it forward 
another stage, the prosecution of the inquiry 
extending over many generations. Thus the idea 
promulgated by Hero of Alexandria was never 
altogether lost ; but, like the grain of wheat hid 
in the hand of the Egyptian mummy, it sprouted 
and again grew vigorously when brought into 
the full light of modern science. The steam-engine 
was nothing, however, until it emerged from the 
state of theory, and was taken in hand by practical 
mechanics ; and what a noble story of patient, 
laborious investigation, of difficulties encountered 
and overcome by heroic industry, does not that 
marvellous machine tell of! It is indeed, in itself, 
a monument of the power of self-help in man. 
Grouped around it we find Savary, the military 
engineer ; Newcomen, the Dartmouth blacksmith ; 
Cawley, the glazier ; Potter, the engine-boy ; 
Smeaton, the civil engineer; and, towering abo^e 
all, the laborious, patient, never-tiring James Watt, 
the mathematical-instrument maker. 

Watt was one of the most industrious of men ; 
and the story of his life proves, what all experience 


confirms, that it is not the man of the greatest 
natural vigour and capacity who achieves the 
highest results, but he who employs his powers 
with the greatest industry and the most carefully 
disciplined skill the skill that comes by labour, 
application, and experience. Many men in his 
time knew far more than Watt, but none laboured 
so assiduously as he did to turn all that he did 
know to useful practical purposes. He was, above 
all things, most persevering in the pursuit of facts. 
He cultivated carefully that habit of active attention 
on which all the higher working qualities of the 
mind mainly depend. Indeed, Mr. Edgeworth 
entertained the opinion, that the difference of 
intellect in men depends more upon the early 
cultivation of this habit of attention, than upon 
any great disparity between the powers of one 
individual and another. 

Even when a boy, Watt found science in his 
toys. The quadrants lying about his father's 
carpenter's shop led him to the study of optics 
and astronomy ; his ill health induced him to pry 
into the secrets of physiology; and his solitary 
walks through the country attracted him to the 
study of botany and history. While carrying on 
the business of a mathematical-instrument maker, 
he received an order to build an organ ; and, 
though without an ear for music, he undertook 
the study of harmonics, and successfully con- 
structed the instrument. And, in like manner, 
when the little model of Newcomen's steam-engine, 
belonging to the University of Glasgow, was placed 
in his hands to repair, he forthwith set himself to 
learn all that was then known about heat, evapora- 
tion, and condensation, at the same time plodding 


his way in mechanics and the science of con- 
struction, the results of which he at length em- 
bodied in his condensing steam-engine. 

For ten years he went on contriving and 
inventing with little hope to cheer him, and 
with few friends to encourage him. He went on, 
meanwhile, earning bread for his family by making 
and selling quadrants, making and mending fiddles, 
flutes, and musical instruments ; measuring mason- 
work, surveying roads, superintending the construc- 
tion of canals, or doing anything that turned up, and 
offered a prospect of honest gain. At length, Watt 
found a fit partner in another eminent leader of 
industry Matthew Boulton, of Birmingham ; a 
skilful, energetic, and far-seeing man, who vigor- 
ously undertook the enterprise of introducing the 
condensing-engine into general use as a working 
power; and the success of both is now matter 
of history.* 

Many skilful inventors have from time to time 
added new power to the steam-engine; and, by 
numerous modifications, rendered it capable of 
being applied to nearly all the purposes of 
manufacture driving machinery, impelling ships, 
grinding corn, printing books, stamping money, 
hammering, planing, and turning iron; in short, 
of performing every description of mechanical 
labour where power is required. One of the 
most useful modifications in the engine was that 
devised by Trevithick, and eventually perfected 
by George Stephenson and his son, in the form of 

* Since the original publication of this book, the author has in 
another work, ' The Lives of Boulton and Watt,' endeavoured 
to portray in greater detail the character and achievements of 
these two remarkable men. 


the railway locomotive, by which social changes 
of immense importance have been brought about, 
of even greater consequence, considered in their 
results on human progress and civilization, than 
the condensing-engine of Watt. 

One of the first grand results of Watt's in- 
vention which placed an almost unlimited power 
at the command of the producing classes was 
the establishment of the cotton-manufacture. The 
person most closely identified with the foundation 
of this great branch of industry was unquestionably 
Sir Richard Arkwright, whose practical energy 
and sagacity were perhaps even more remarkable 
than his mechanical inventiveness. His originality 
as an inventor has indeed been called in question, 
like that of Watt and Stephenson. Arkwright 
probably stood in the same relation to the spinning- 
machine that Watt did to the steam-engine and 
Stephenson to the locomotive. He gathered to- 
gether the scattered threads of ingenuity which 
already existed, and wove them, after his own 
design, into a new and original fabric. Though 
Lewis Paul, of Birmingham, patented the invention 
of spinning by rollers thirty years before Arkwright, 
the machines constructed by him were so imperfect 
in their details, that they could not be profitably 
worked, and the invention was practically a 
failure. Another obscure mechanic, a reed-maker 
of Leigh, named Thomas Highs, is also said to 
have invented the water-frame and spinning-jenny ; 
but they, too, proved unsuccessful. 

When the demands of industry are found to 
press upon the resources of inventors, the same 
idea is usually found floating about in many minds ; 
such has been the case with the steam-engine, 


By Joseph Wright, A.R.A. 

\Tofacep. 38. 


the safety-lamp, the electric telegraph, and other 
inventions. Many ingenious minds are found 
labouring in the throes of invention, until at 
length the master mind, the strong practical 
man, steps forward, and straightway delivers 
them of their idea, applies the principle successfully, 
and the thing is done. Then there is a loud out- 
cry among all the smaller contrivers, who see 
themselves distanced in the race; and hence men 
such as Watt, Stephenson, and Arkwright, have 
usually to defend their reputation and their rights 
as practical and successful inventors. 

Richard Arkwright, like most of our great 
mechanicians, sprang from the ranks. He was 
born in Preston in 1732. His parents were very 
poor, and he was the youngest of thirteen children. 
He was never at school : the only education he 
received he gave to himself; and to the last he 
was only able to write with difficulty. When a 
boy, he was apprenticed to a barber, and after 
learning the business, he set up for himself in 
Bolton, where he occupied an underground cellar, 
over which he put up the sign, " Come to the 
subterraneous barber he shaves for a penny." 
The other barbers found their customers leaving 
them, and reduced their prices to his standard, 
when Arkwright, determined to push his trade, 
announced his determination to give "a clean 
shave for a halfpenny." After a few years he 
quitted his cellar, and became an itinerant dealer 
in hair. At that time wigs were worn, and wig- 
making formed an important branch of the barber- 
ing business. Arkwright went about buying hair 
for the wigs. He was accustomed to attend the 
hiring fairs throughout Lancashire resorted to by 


young women, for the purpose of securing their 
long tresses ; and it is said that in negotiations of 
this sort he was very successful. He also dealt in 
a chemical hair dye, which he used adroitly, and 
thereby secured a considerable trade. But he does 
not seem, notwithstanding his pushing character, 
to have done more than earn a bare living. 

The fashion of wig-wearing having undergone 
a change, distress fell upon the wig-makers ; and 
Arkwright, being of a mechanical turn, was con- 
sequently induced to turn machine inventor or 
"conjurer," as the pursuit was then popularly 
termed. Many attempts were made about that 
time to invent a spinning-machine, and our barber 
determined to launch his little bark on the sea of 
invention with the rest. Like other self-taught men 
of the same bias, he had already been devoting 
his spare time to the invention of a perpetual- 
motion machine ; and from that the transition to 
a spinning-machine was easy. He followed his 
experiments so assiduously that he neglected his 
business, lost the little money he had saved, and 
was reduced to great poverty. His wife for he 
had by this time married was impatient at what 
she conceived to be a wanton waste of time and 
money, and in a moment of sudden wrath she 
seized upon and destroyed his models, hoping 
thus to remove the cause of the family privations. 
Arkwright was a stubborn and enthusiastic man, 
and he was provoked beyond measure by this 
conduct of his wife, from whom he immediately 

In travelling about the country, Arkwright had 
become acquainted with a person named Kay, a 
clockmaker at Warrington, who assisted him in 


constructing some of the parts of his perpetual- 
motion machinery. It is supposed that he was 
informed by Kay of the principle of spinning by 
rollers ; but it is also said that the idea was first 
suggested to him by accidentally observing a red- 
hot piece of iron become elongated by passing 
between iron rollers. However this may be, the 
idea at once took firm possession of his mind, and 
he proceeded to devise the process by which it was 
to be accomplished, Kay being able to tell him 
nothing on this point. Arkwright now abandoned 
his business of hair collecting, and devoted himself 
to the perfecting of his machine, a model of which, 
constructed by Kay under his directions, he set 
up in the parlour of the Free Grammar School at 
Preston. Being a burgess of the town, he voted 
at the contested election at which General Burgoyne 
was returned ; but such was his poverty, and such 
the tattered state of his dress, that a number of 
persons subscribed a sum sufficient to have him put 
in a state fit to appear in the poll-room. The exhi- 
bition of his machine in a town where so many 
workpeople lived by the exercise of manual labour 
proved a dangerous experiment ; ominous growlings 
were heard outside the school-room from time to 
time, and Arkwright remembering the fate of 
Kay, who was mobbed and compelled to fly from 
Lancashire because of his invention of the fly- 
shuttle, and of poor Hargreaves, whose spinning- 
jenny had been pulled to pieces only a short time 
before by a Blackburn mob wisely determined 
on packing up his model and removing to a 
less dangerous locality. He went accordingly to 
Nottingham, where he applied to some of the local 
bankers for pecuniary assistance ; and the Messrs. 


Wright consented to advance him a sum of money 
on condition of sharing in the profits of the inven- 
tion. The machine, however, not being perfected 
so soon as they had anticipated, the bankers recom- 
mended Arkwright to apply to Messrs. Strutt & 
Need, the former of whom was the ingenious in- 
ventor and patentee of the stocking-frame. Mr. 
Strutt at once appreciated the merits of the in- 
vention, and a partnership was entered into with 
Arkwright, whose road to fortune was now clear. 
The patent was secured in the name of " Richard 
Arkwright, of Nottingham, clockmaker," and it is a 
circumstance worthy of note, that it was taken out 
in 1769, the same year in which Watt secured the 
patent for his steam-engine. A cotton-mill was 
first erected at Nottingham, driven by horses ; and 
another was shortly after built, on a much larger 
scale, at Cromford, in Derbyshire, turned by a 
water-wheel, from which circumstance the spinning- 
machine came to be called the water-frame. 

Arkwright's labours, however, were, compara- 
tively speaking, only begun. He had still to perfect 
all the working details of his machine. It was in 
his hands the subject of constant modification and 
improvement, until eventually it was rendered 
practicable and profitable in an eminent degree. 
But success was only secured by long and patient 
labour : for some years, indeed, the speculation 
was disheartening and unprofitable, swallowing up 
a very large amount of capital without any result. 
When success began to appear more certain, then 
the Lancashire manufacturers fell upon Ark- 
wright's patent to pull it in pieces, as the Cornish 
miners fell upon Boulton and Watt to rob them 
of the profits of their steam-engine. Arkwright 


was even denounced as the enemy of the working 
people ; and a mill which he built near Chorley 
was destroyed by a mob in the presence of a strong 
force of police and military. The Lancashire men 
refused to buy his materials, though they were 
confessedly the best in the market. Then they 
refused to pay patent-right for the use of his 
machines, and combined to crush him in the courts 
of law. To the disgust of right-minded people, 
Arkwright's patent was upset. After the trial, 
when passing the hotel at which his opponents 
were staying, one of them said, loud enough to be 
heard by him, " Well, we've done the old shaver at 
last " ; to which he coolly replied, " Never mind, 
I've a razor left that will shave you all." He 
established new mills in Lancashire, Derbyshire, 
and at New Lanark, in Scotland. The mills at 
Cromford also came into his hands at the expiry of 
his partnership with Strutt, and the amount and the 
excellence of his products were such, that in a short 
time he obtained so complete a control of the trade, 
that the prices were fixed by him, and he governed 
the main operations of the other cotton-spinners. 

Arkwright was a man of great force of character, 
indomitable courage, much worldly shrewdness, 
with a business faculty almost amounting to genius. 
At one period his time was engrossed by severe 
and continuous labour, occasioned by the organizing 
and conducting of his numerous manufactories, 
sometimes from four in the morning till nine at 
night. At fifty years of age he set to work to learn 
English grammar, and improve himself in writing 
and orthography. After overcoming every obstacle, 
he had the satisfaction of reaping the reward 
of his enterprise. Eighteen years after he had 


constructed his first machine, he rose to such esti- 
mation in Derbyshire that he was appointed High 
Sheriff of the county, and shortly after George III. 
conferred upon him the honour of knighthood. 
He died in 1792. Be it for good or for evil, Ark- 
wright was the founder in England of the modern 
factory system, a branch of industry which has 
unquestionably proved a source of immense wealth 
to individuals and to the nation. 

All the other great branches of industry in 
Britain furnish like examples of energetic men of 
business, the source of much benefit to the neigh- 
bourhoods in which they have laboured, and of 
increased power and wealth to the community at 
large. Amongst such might be cited the Strutts of 
Belper ; the Tennants of Glasgow ; the Marshalls 
and Gotts of Leeds; the Peels, Ashworths, Birleys, 
Fieldens, Ashtons, Heywoods, and Ainsworths of 
South Lancashire, some of whose descendants have 
since become distinguished in connexion with the 
political history of England. Such pre-eminently 
were the Peels of South Lancashire. 

The founder of the Peel family, about the 
middle of last century, was a small yeoman, occu- 
pying the Hole House Farm, near Blackburn, from 
which he afterwards removed to a house situated 
in Fish Lane in that town. Robert Peel, as he 
advanced in life, saw a large family of sons and 
daughters growing up about him ; but the land 
about Blackburn being somewhat barren, it did 
not appear to him that agricultural pursuits offered 
a very encouraging prospect for their industry. 
The place had, however, long been the seat of a 
domestic manufacture the fabric called " Black- 
burn greys," consisting of linen weft and cotton 


warp, being chiefly made in that town and its 
neighbourhood. It was then customary previous 
to the introduction of the factory system for in- 
dustrious yeomen with families to employ the 
time not occupied in the fields in weaving at home ; 
and Robert Peel accordingly began the domestic 
trade of calico-making. He was honest, and made 
an honest article ; thrifty and hardworking, and 
his trade prospered. He was also enterprising, 
and was one of the first to adopt the carding 
cylinder, then recently invented. 

But Robert Peel's attention was principally 
directed to the printing of calico, then a compara- 
tively unknown art, and for some time he carried 
on a series of experiments with the object ot 
printing by machinery. The experiments were 
secretly conducted in his own house, the cloth 
being ironed for the purpose by one of the women 
of the family. It was then customary, in such 
houses as the Peels', to use pewter plates for 
dinner. Having sketched a figure or pattern on 
one of the plates, the thought struck him that an 
impression might be got from it in reverse, and 
printed on calico with colour. In a cottage at the 
end of the farm-house lived a woman who kept a 
calendering machine, and going into her cottage, 
he put the plate with colour rubbed into the 
figured part and some calico over it, through the 
machine, when it was found to leave a satisfactory 
impression. Such is said to have been the origin 
of roller-printing on calico. Robert Peel shortly 
perfected his process, and the first pattern he 
brought out was a parsley leaf; hence he is spoken 
of in the neighbourhood of Blackburn to this day 
as " Parsley Peel." The process of calico-printing 


by what is called the mule machine that is, by 
means of a wooden cylinder in relief, with an 
engraved copper cylinder was afterwards brought 
to perfection by one of his sons, the head of the 
firm of Messrs. Peel & Co., of Church. Stimu- 
lated by his success, Robert Peel shortly gave up 
farming, and removing to Brookside, a village 
about two miles from Blackburn, he devoted him- 
self exclusively to the printing business. There, 
with the aid of his sons, who were as energetic 
as himself, he successfully carried on the trade for 
several years ; and as the young men grew up 
towards manhood, the concern branched out into 
various firms of Peels, each of which became a 
centre of industrial activity and a source of 
remunerative employment to large numbers of 

From what can now be learnt of the character 
of the original and untitled Robert Peel, he must 
have been a remarkable man shrewd, sagacious, 
and far-seeing. But little is known of him except- 
ing from tradition, and the sons of those who knew 
him are fast passing away. His son, Sir Robert, thus 
modestly spoke of him : " My father may be truly 
said to have been the founder of our family; and 
he so accurately appreciated the importance of 
commercial wealth in a national point of view, 
that he was often heard to say that the gains to 
individuals were small compared with the national 
gains arising from trade." 

Sir Robert Peel, the first baronet and the second 
manufacturer of the name, inherited all his father's 
enterprise, ability, and industry. His position, at 
starting in life, was little above that of an ordinary 
working man; for his father, though laying the 

CHAP, ii] YATES, PEEL & CO. 47 

foundations of future prosperity, was still strug- 
gling with the difficulties arising from insufficient 
capital. When Robert was only twenty years of 
age, he determined to begin the business of cotton- 
printing, which he had by this time learnt from his 
father, on his own account. His uncle, James 
Haworth, and William Yates of Blackburn, joined 
him in his enterprise ; the whole capital which 
they could raise amongst them amounting to only 
about 5oo/., the principal part of which was sup- 
plied by William Yates. The father of the latter 
was a householder in Blackburn, where he was 
well known and much respected ; and having 
saved money by his business, he was willing to 
advance sufficient to give his son a start in the 
lucrative trade of cotton-printing, then in its 
infancy. Robert Peel, though comparatively a 
mere youth, supplied the practical knowledge of 
the business ; but it was said of him, and proved 
true, that he " carried an old head on young 
shoulders." A ruined corn-mill, with its adjoin- 
ing fields, was purchased for a comparatively small 
sum, near the then insignificant town of Bury, 
where the works long after continued to be known 
as "The Ground " ; and a few wooden sheds having 
been run up, the firm commenced their cotton- 
printing business in a very humble way in the 
year 1770, adding to it that of cotton-spinning a 
few years later. The frugal style in which the 
partners lived may be inferred from the following 
incident in their early career. William Yates, 
being a married man with a family, commenced 
housekeeping on a small scale, and, to oblige Peel, 
who was single, he agreed to take him as a lodger. 
The sum which the latter first paid for board and 


lodging was only 8s. a week ; but Yates, consider- 
ing this too little, insisted on the weekly pay- 
ment being increased a shilling, to which Peel 
at first demurred, and a difference between the 
partners took place, which was eventually com- 
promised by the lodger paying an advance of 
sixpence a week. William Yates's eldest child 
was a girl named Ellen, and she very soon became 
an especial favourite with the young lodger. On 
returning from his hard day's work at " The 
Ground," he would take the little girl upon his 
knee, and say to her, " Nelly, thou bonny little 
dear, wilt be my wife?" to which the child 
would readily answer " Yes," as any child would 
do. " Then I'll wait for thee, Nelly ; I'll wed thee, 
and none else." And Robert Peel did wait. As 
the girl grew in beauty towards womanhood, his 
determination to wait for her was strengthened ; 
and after the lapse of ten years years of close 
application to business and rapidly increasing 
prosperity Robert Peel married Ellen Yates when 
she had completed her seventeenth year ; and the 
pretty child, whom her mother's lodger and father's 
partner had nursed upon his knee, became Mrs. 
Peel, and eventually Lady Peel, the mother of the 
future Prime Minister of England. Lady Peel was 
a noble and beautiful woman, fitted to grace any 
station in life. She possessed rare powers of mind, 
and was, on every emergency, the high-souled and 
faithful counsellor of her husband. For many years 
after their marriage she acted as his amanuensis, 
conducting the principal part of his business corre- 
spondence, for Mr. Peel himself was an indifferent 
and almost unintelligible writer. She died in 1803, 
only three years after the Baronetcy had been con- 


ferred upon her husband. It is said that London 
fashionable life so unlike what she had been 
accustomed to at home proved injurious to her 
health ; and old Mr. Yates afterwards used to say, 
"If Robert hadn't made our Nelly a 'Lady,' she 
might ha' been living yet." 

The career of Yates, Peel & Co was throughout 
one of great and uninterrupted prosperity. Sir 
Robert Peel himself was the soul of the firm ; to 
great energy and application uniting much practical 
sagacity, and first-rate mercantile abilities qualities 
in which many of the early cotton-spinners were 
exceedingly deficient. He was a man of iron mind 
and frame, and toiled unceasingly. In short, he 
was to cotton-printing what Arkwright was to 
cotton-spinning, and his success was equally great. 
The excellence of the articles produced by the firm 
secured the command of the market, and the char- 
acter of the firm stood pre-eminent in Lancashire. 
Besides greatly benefiting Bury, the partnership 
planted similar extensive works in the neighbour- 
hood, on the Irwell and the Roch ; and it was cited 
to their honour, that, while they sought to raise 
to the highest perfection the quality of their 
manufactures, they also endeavoured, in all ways, 
to promote the well-being and comfort of their 
workpeople ; for whom they contrived to provide 
remunerative employment even in the least pros- 
perous times. 

Sir Robert Peel readily appreciated the value of 
all new processes and inventions ; in illustration of 
which we may allude to his adoption of the process 
for producing what is called resist work in calico- 
printing. This is accomplished by the use of a paste, 
or resist, on such parts of the cloth as were intended 



to remain white. The person who discovered the 
paste was a traveller for a London house, who sold 
it to Mr. Peel for an inconsiderable sum. It re- 
quired the experience of a year or two to perfect 
the system and make it practically useful; but 
the beauty of its effect, and the extreme pre- 
cision of outline in the pattern produced, at once 
placed the Bury establishment at the head of all 
the factories for calico-printing in the country. 
Other firms, conducted with like spirit, were 
established by members of the same family at 
Burnley, Foxhill Bank, and Altham, in Lancashire ; 
Salley Abbey, in Yorkshire ; and afterwards at 
Burton-on-Trent, in Staffordshire ; these various 
establishments, whilst they brought wealth to 
their proprietors, setting an example to the whole 
cotton trade, and training up many of the 
most successful printers and manufacturers in 

Among other distinguished founders of industry, 
the Rev. William Lee, inventor of the stocking- 
frame, and John Heathcoat, inventor of the bobbin- 
net machine, are worthy of notice, as men of great 
mechanical skill and perseverance, through whose 
labours a vast amount of remunerative employment 
has been provided for the labouring population of 
Nottingham and the adjacent districts. The ac- 
counts which have been preserved of the circum- 
stances connected with the invention of the stocking- 
frame are very confused, and in many respects 
contradictory, though there is no doubt as to the 
name of the inventor. This was William Lee, born 
at Woodborough, a village some seven miles from 
Nottingham, about the year 1563. According to 
some accounts, he was the heir to a small freehold, 


while according to others he was a poor scholar,* 
and had to struggle with poverty from his earliest 
years. He entered as a sizar at Christ College, 
Cambridge, in May, 1579, and subsequently re- 
moved to St. John's, taking his degree of B.A. 
in 1582-3. It is believed that he commenced M.A. 
in 1586; but on this point there appears to be 
some confusion in the records of the University. 
The statement usually made that he was expelled 
for marrying contrary to the statutes, is incorrect, as 
he was never a Fellow of the University, and there- 
fore could not be prejudiced by taking such a step. 
At the time when Lee invented the stocking- 
frame he was officiating as curate of Calverton, 
near Nottingham ; and it is alleged by some 
writers that the invention had its origin in dis- 
appointed affection. The curate is said to have 
fallen deeply in love with a young lady of the 
village, who failed to reciprocate his affections ; and 
when he visited her, she was accustomed to pay 
much more attention to the process of knitting 
stockings and instructing her pupils in the art, 
than to the addresses of her admirer. This slight 
is said to have created in his mind such an aversion 
to knitting by hand, that he formed the determina- 
tion to invent a machine that should supersede it 
and render it a gainless employment. For three 
years he devoted himself to the prosecution of the 

* The following entry, which occurs in the account of monies 
disbursed by the burgesses of Sheffield in 1573 [?], is supposed by 
some to refer to the inventor of the stocking frame : " Item gyven 
to Will Lee, a poore scholler in Sheafield, towards the settyng 
him to the Universitie of Chambrydge, and buying him bookes and 
other furnyture [which money was afterwards returned] xiii iiii 

^. 4</.]." Hunter, ' History of Hallamshire,' 141. 


invention, sacrificing everything to his new idea. 
As the prospect of success opened before him, he 
abandoned his curacy, and devoted himself to the 
art of stocking-making by machinery. This is 
the version of the story given by Henson * on the 
authority of an old stocking-maker, who died in 
Collins's Hospital, Nottingham, aged ninety-two, 
and was apprenticed in the town during the reign 
of Queen Anne. It is also given by Deering and 
Blackner as the traditional account in the neigh- 
bourhood, and it is in some measure borne out 
by the arms of the London Company of Frame- 
Work Knitters, which consists of a stocking-frame 
without the wood-work, with a clergyman on one 
side and a woman on the other as supporters.! 

Whatever may have been the actual facts as 
to the origin of the invention of the stocking- 
loom, there can be no doubt as to the extra- 

* ' History of the Framework Knitters.' 

t There are, however, other and different accounts. One is to 
the effect that Lee set about studying the contrivance of the stock- 
ing-loom for the purpose of lessening the labour of a young country- 
girl to whom he was attached, whose occupation was knitting ; 
another, that being married and poor, his wife was under the ne- 
cessity of contributing to their joint support by knitting ; and that 
Lee, while watching the motion of his wife's fingers, conceived the 
idea of imitating their movements by a machine. The latter story 
seems to have been invented by Aaron Hill, Esq., in his 'Account 
of the Rise and Progress of the Beech Oil Manufacture,' London, 
1715 ; but his statement is altogether unreliable. Thus he makes 
Lee to have been a Fellow of a college at Oxford, from which he 
was expelled for marrying an innkeeper's daughter ; whilst Lee 
neither studied at Oxford, nor married there, nor was a Fellow of 
any college ; and he concludes by alleging that the result of his 
invention was to "make Lee and his family happy " ; whereas the 
invention brought him only a heritage of misery, and he died 
abroad destitute. 


ordinary mechanical genius displayed by its in- 
ventor. That a clergyman living in a remote 
village, whose life had for the most part been spent 
with books, should contrive a machine of such 
delicate and complicated movements, and at once 
advance the art of knitting from the tedious pro- 
cess of linking threads in a chain of loops by three 
skewers in the fingers of a woman, to the beautiful 
and rapid process of weaving by the stocking- 
frame, was indeed an astonishing achievement, 
which may be pronounced almost unequalled in 
the history of mechanical invention. Lee's merit 
was all the greater, as the handicraft arts were 
then in their infancy, and little attention had as 
yet been given to the contrivance of machinery for 
the purposes of manufacture. He was under the 
necessity of extemporizing the parts of his machine 
as he best could, and adopting various expedients 
to overcome difficulties as they arose. His tools 
were imperfect, and his materials imperfect; and 
he had no skilled workmen to assist him. Ac- 
cording to tradition, the first frame he made was 
a twelve gauge, without lead sinkers, and it was 
almost wholly of wood ; the needles being also 
stuck in bits of wood. One of Lee's principal 
difficulties consisted in the formation of the stitch, 
for want of needle eyes ; but this he eventually 
overcame by forming eyes to the needles with a 
three-square file.* At length, one difficulty after 

* Blackner, ' History of Nottingham.' The author adds, " We 
have information, handed down in direct succession from father to 
son, that it was not till late in the seventeenth century that one man 
could manage the working of a frame. The man who was con- 
sidered the workman employed a labourer, who stood behind the 
frame to work the slur and pressing motions ; but the application of 
traddles and of the feet eventually rendered the labour unnecessary." 


another was successfully overcome, and after three 
years' labour the machine was sufficiently complete 
to be fit for use. The quondam curate, full of enthu- 
siasm for his art, now began stocking-weaving in the 
village of Calverton, and he continued to work there 
for several years, instructing his brother James and 
several of his relations in the practice of the art. 

Having brought his frame to a considerable de- 
gree of perfection, and being desirous of securing 
the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, whose partiality 
for knitted silk stockings was well known, Lee 
proceeded to London to exhibit the loom before 
her Majesty. He first showed it to several 
members of the court, among others to Sir William 
(afterwards Lord) Hunsdon, whom he taught to 
work it with success ; and Lee was, through their 
instrumentality, at length admitted to an interview 
with the Queen, and worked the machine in her 
presence. Elizabeth, however, did not give him 
the encouragement that he had expected ; and she 
is said to have opposed the invention on the ground 
that it was calculated to deprive a large number 
of poor people of their employment of hand 
knitting. Lee was no more successful in finding 
other patrons, and considering himself and his 
invention treated with contempt, he embraced the 
offer made to him by Sully, the sagacious minister 
of Henry IV., to proceed to Rouen and instruct the 
operatives of that town then one of the most 
important manufacturing centres of France in the 
construction and use of the stocking-frame. Lee 
accordingly transferred himself and his machines 
to France, in 1605, taking with him his brother and 
seven workmen. He met with a cordial reception 
at Rouen, and was proceeding with the manufacture 


of stockings on a large scale having nine of his 
frames in full work, when unhappily ill fortune 
again overtook him. Henry IV., his protector, on 
whom he had relied for the rewards, honours, and 
promised grant of privileges, which had induced 
Lee to settle in France, was murdered by the 
fanatic Ravaillac ; and the encouragement and 
protection which had heretofore been extended to 
him were at once withdrawn. To press his claims 
at court, Lee proceeded to Paris; but being a 
Protestant as well as a foreigner, his representations 
were treated with neglect ; and worn out with 
vexation and grief, this distinguished inventor 
shortly after died at Paris, in a state of extreme 
poverty and distress. 

Lee's brother, with seven of the workmen, 
succeeded in escaping from France with their 
frames, leaving two behind. On James Lee's 
return to Nottinghamshire, he was joined by one 
Ashton, a miller of Thoroton, who had been in- 
structed in the art of frame-work knitting by the 
inventor himself before he left England. These 
two, with the workmen and their frames, began 
the stocking-manufacture at Thoroton, and carried 
it on with considerable success. The place was 
favourably situated for the purpose, as the sheep 
pastured in the neighbouring district of Sherwood 
yielded a kind of wool of the longest staple. 
Ashton is said to have introduced the method 
of making the frames with lead sinkers, which 
was a great improvement. The number of 
looms employed in different parts of England 
gradually increased ; and the machine manufacture 
of stockings eventually became an important branch 
of the national industry, 


One of the most important modifications in the 
stocking-frame was that which enabled it to be 
applied to the manufacture of lace on a large 
scale. In 1777, two workmen, Frost and Holmes, 
were both engaged in making point-net by means 
of the modifications they had introduced in the 
stocking-frame ; and in the course of about thirty 
years, so rapid was the growth of this branch of 
production that 1500 point-net frames were at 
work, giving employment to upwards of 15,000 
people. Owing, however, to the war, to change 
of fashion, and to other circumstances, the 
Nottingham lace-manufacture rapidly fell off; and 
it continued in a decaying state until the invention 
of the bobbin-net machine by John Heathcoat, 
late M.P. for Tiverton, which had the effect of 
at once re-establishing the manufacture on solid 

John Heathcoat was the youngest son of a 
respectable small farmer at Duffield, Derbyshire, 
where he was born in 1783. When at school he 
made steady and rapid progress, but was early 
removed from it to be apprenticed to a frame-smith 
near Loughborough. The boy soon learnt to handle 
tools with dexterity, and he acquired a minute 
knowledge of the parts of which the stocking-frame 
was composed, as well as of the more intricate 
warp-machine. At his leisure he studied how to 
introduce improvements in them, and his friend, 
Mr. Bazley, M.P., states that as early as the age of 
sixteen, he conceived the idea of inventing a 
machine by which lace might be made similar 
to Buckingham or French lace, then all made by 
hand. The first practical improvement he succeeded 
in introducing was in the warp-frame, when, by 


means of an ingenious apparatus, he succeeded in 
producing " mitts " of a lacy appearance, and it 
was this success which determined him to pursue 
the study of mechanical lace-making. The stocking 
frame had already, in a modified form, been applied 
to the manufacture of point-net lace, in which the 
mesh was looped as in a stocking, but the work 
was slight and frail, and therefore unsatisfactory. 
Many ingenious Nottingham mechanics had, during 
a long succession of years, been labouring at the 
problem of inventing a machine by which the 
mesh of threads should be twisted round each other 
on the formation of the net. Some of these men 
died in poverty, some were driven insane, and all 
alike failed in the object of their search. The old 
warp-machine held its ground. 

When a little over twenty-one years of age, 
Heathcoat went to Nottingham, where he readily 
found employment, for which he soon received the 
highest remuneration, as a setter-up of hosiery and 
warp-frames, and was much respected for his talent 
for invention, general intelligence, and the sound 
and sober principles that governed his conduct 
He also continued to pursue the subject on which 
his mind had before been occupied, and laboured 
to compass the contrivance of a twist traverse-net 
machine. He first studied the art of making the 
Buckingham or pillow-lace by hand, with the 
object of effecting the same motions by mechanical 
means. It was a long and laborious task, requiring 
the exercise of great perseverance and ingenuity. 
His master, Elliot, described him at that time as 
inventive, patient, self-denying, and taciturn, 
undaunted by failures and mistakes, full of resources 
and expedients, and entertaining the most perfect 


confidence that his application of mechanical 
principles would eventually be crowned with 

It is difficult to describe in words an invention 
so complicated as the bobbin-net machine. It 
was, indeed, a mechanical pillow for making lace, 
imitating in an ingenious manner the motions of 
the lace-maker's fingers in intersecting or tying 
the meshes of the lace upon her pillow. On 
analysing the component parts of a piece of hand- 
made lace, Heathcote was enabled to classify the 
threads into longitudinal and diagonal. He began 
his experiments by fixing common pack-threads 
lengthwise on a sort of frame for the warp, and 
then passing the weft threads between them by 
common plyers, delivering them to other plyers on 
the opposite side ; then, after giving them a side- 
ways motion and twist, the threads were repassed 
back between the next adjoining cords, the meshes 
being thus tied in the same way as upon pillows 
by hand. He had then to contrive a mechanism 
that should accomplish all these nice and delicate 
movements, and to do this cost him no small 
amount of mental toil. Long after he said, " The 
single difficulty of getting the diagonal threads to 
twist in the allotted space was so great that if it 
had now to be done, I should probably not attempt 
its accomplishment." His next step was to provide 
thin metallic discs, to be used as bobbins for 
conducting the threads backwards and forwards 
through the warp. These discs, being arranged 
in carrier-frames placed on each side of the warp, 
were moved by suitable machinery so as to conduct 
the threads from side to side in forming the lace. 
He eventually succeeded in working out his 


principle with extraordinary skill and success ; and, 
at the age of twenty-four, he was enabled to secure 
his invention by a patent. 

During this time his wife was kept in almost as 
great anxiety as himself, for she well knew of his 
trials and difficulties while he was striving to 
perfect his invention. Many years after they had 
been successfully overcome, the conversation which 
took place one eventful evening was vividly 
remembered. " Well," said the anxious wife, 
"will it work?" "No," was the sad answer; "I 
have had to take it all to pieces again." Though he 
could still speak hopefully and cheerfully, his poor 
wife could restrain her feelings no longer, but sat 
down and cried bitterly. She had, however, only 
a few more weeks to wait, for success, long laboured 
for and richly deserved, came at last, and a proud 
and happy man was John Heathcoat when he 
brought home the first narrow strip of bobbin-net 
made by his machine, and placed it in the hands of 
his wife. 

As in the case of nearly all inventions which 
have proved productive, Heathcoat's right as a 
patentee were disputed, and his claims as an 
inventor called in question. On the supposed 
invalidity of the patent, the lace-makers boldly 
adopted the bobbin-net machine, and set the 
inventor at defiance. But other patents were 
taken out for alleged improvements and adaptations ; 
and it was only when these new patentees fell out 
and went to law with each other that Heathcoat's 
rights became established. One lace-manufacturer 
having brought an action against another for an 
alleged infringement of his patent, the jury brought 
in a verdict for the defendant, in which the judge 


concurred, on the ground that both the machines 
in question were infringements of Heathcoat's 
patent. It was on the occasion of this trial, 
" Boville v. Moore," that Sir John Copley (after- 
wards Lord Lyndhurst), who was retained for the 
defence in the interest of Mr. Heathcoat, learnt to 
work the bobbin-net machine in order that he 
might master the details of the invention. On 
reading over his brief, he confessed that he did 
not quite understand the merits of the case; but 
as it seemed to him to be one of great importance, 
he offered to go down into the country forthwith 
and study the machine until he understood it ; 
"and then," said he, "I will defend you to the 
best of my ability." He accordingly put himself 
into that night's mail, and went down to Nottingham 
to get up his case as perhaps counsel never got 
it up before. Next morning the learned sergeant 
placed himself in a lace-loom, and he did not leave 
it until he could deftly make a piece of bobbin-net 
with his own hands, and thoroughly understood the 
principle as well as the details of the machine. 
When the case came on for trial, the learned 
sergeant was enabled to work the model on the 
table with such ease and skill, and to explain 
the precise nature of the invention with such 
felicitous clearness, as to astonish alike judge, 
jury, and spectators; and the thorough conscien- 
tiousness and mastery with which he handled the 
case had no doubt its influence upon the decision 
of the court. 

After the trial was over, Mr. Heathcoat, on 
inquiry, found about six hundred machines at work 
after his patent, and he proceeded to levy royalty 
upon the owners of them, which amounted to a 


large sum. But the profits realized by the manu- 
facturers of lace were very great, and the use of 
the machines rapidly extended ; while the price 
of the article was reduced from five pounds the 
square yard to about five pence in the course of 
twenty-five years. During the same period the 
average annual returns of the lace-trade have been 
at least four millions sterling, and it gives re- 
munerative employment to about 150,000 work- 

To return to the personal history of Mr. Heath- 
coat. In 1809 we find him established as a lace- 
manufacturer at Loughborough, in Leicestershire. 
There he carried on a prosperous business for 
several years, giving employment to a large number 
of operatives, at wages varying from 5/. to io/. 
a week. Notwithstanding the great increase in 
the number of hands employed in lace-making 
through the introduction of the new machines, 
it began to be whispered about among the work- 
people that they were superseding labour, and 
an extensive conspiracy was formed for the purpose 
of destroying them wherever found. As early as 
the year 1811 disputes arose between the masters 
and men engaged in the stocking and lace trades 
in the south-western parts of Nottinghamshire and 
the adjacent parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, 
the result of which was the assembly of a mob 
at Sutton, in Ashfield, who proceeded in open 
day to break the stocking- and lace-frames of the 
manufacturers. Some of the ringleaders having 
been seized and punished, the disaffected learnt 
caution ; but the destruction of the machines was 
nevertheless carried on secretly wherever a safe 
opportunity presented itself. As the machines 


were of so delicate a construction that a single 
blow of a hammer rendered them useless, and as 
the manufacture was carried on for the most part 
in detached buildings, often in private dwellings 
remote from towns, the opportunities of destroying 
them were unusually easy. In the neighbourhood 
of Nottingham, which was the focus of turbulence, 
the machine-breakers organized themselves in 
regular bodies, and held nocturnal meetings at 
which their plans were arranged. Probably with 
the view of inspiring confidence, they gave out 
that they were under the command of a leader 
named Ned Ludd, or General Ludd, and hence 
their designation of Luddites. Under this organiza- 
tion machine-breaking was carried on with great 
vigour during the winter of 1811, occasioning 
great distress, and throwing large numbers of 
workpeople out of employment. Meanwhile, the 
owners of the frames proceeded to remove them 
from the villages and lone dwellings in the country, 
and brought them into warehouses in the towns 
for their better protection. 

The Luddites seem to have been encouraged by 
the lenity of the sentences pronounced on such 
of their confederates as had been apprehended and 
tried; and, shortly after, the mania broke out 
afresh, and rapidly extended over the northern and 
midland manufacturing districts. The organization 
became more secret ; an oath was administered 
to the members binding them to obedience to the 
orders issued by the heads of the confederacy; 
and the betrayal of their designs was decreed to 
be death. All machines were doomed by them 
to destruction, whether employed in the manu- 
facture of cloth, calico, or lace; and a reign of 


terror began which lasted for years. In York- 
shire and Lancashire mills were boldly attacked 
by armed rioters, and in many cases they were 
wrecked or burnt ; so that it became necessary 
to guard them by soldiers and yeomanry. The 
masters themselves were doomed to death ; many 
of them were assaulted, and some were murdered. 
At length the law was vigorously set in motion; 
numbers of the misguided Luddites were appre- 
hended ; some were executed ; and after several 
years' violent commotion from this cause, the 
machine-breaking riots were at length quelled. 

Among the numerous manufacturers whose 
works were attacked by the Luddites, was the 
inventor of the bobbin-net machine himself. One 
bright sunny day, in the summer of 1816, a body 
of rioters entered his factory at Loughborough 
with torches, and set fire to it, destroying thirty- 
seven lace-machines, and above io,ooo/. worth of 
property. Ten of the men were apprehended for 
the felony, and eight of them were executed. Mr. 
Heathcoat made a claim upon the county for 
compensation, and it was resisted ; but the Court 
of King's Bench decided in his favour, and decreed 
that the county must make good his loss of io,ooo/. 
The magistrates sought to couple with the pay- 
ment of the damage the condition that Mr. 
Heathcoat should expend the money in the county 
of Leicester; but to this he would not assent, 
having already resolved on removing his manu- 
facture elsewhere. At Tiverton, in Devonshire, 
he found a large building which had been formerly 
used as a woollen manufactory; but the Tiverton 
cloth trade having fallen into decay, the building 
remained unoccupied, and the town itself was 


generally in a very poverty-stricken condition. 
Mr. Heathcoat bought the old mill, renovated and 
enlarged it, and there recommenced the manu- 
facture of lace upon a larger scale than before; 
keeping in full work as many as three hundred 
machines, and employing a large number of 
artisans at good wages. Not only did he carry on 
the manufacture of lace, but the various branches 
of business connected with it yarn-doubling, silk- 
spinning, net-making, and finishing. He also 
established at Tiverton an iron-foundry and works 
for the manufacture of agricultural implements, 
which proved of great convenience to the district. 
It was a favourite idea of his that steam power 
was capable of being applied to perform all the 
heavy drudgery of life, and he laboured for a long 
time at the invention of a steam-plough. In 1832 
he so far completed his invention as to be enabled 
to take out a patent for it ; and Heathcoat's steam- 
plough, though it has since been superseded by 
Fowler's, was considered the best machine of the 
kind that had up to that time been invented. 

Mr. Heathcoat was a man of great natural gifts. 
He possessed a sound understanding, quick per- 
ception, and a genius for business of the highest 
order. With these he combined uprightness, 
honesty, and integrity qualities which are the 
true glory of human character. Himself a diligent 
self-educator, he gave ready encouragement to 
deserving youths in his employment, stimulating 
their talents and fostering their energies. During 
his own busy life, he contrived to save time to 
master French and Italian, of which he acquired 
an accurate and grammatical knowledge. His 
mind was largely stored with the results of a 


careful study of the best literature, and there were 
few subjects on which he had not formed for 
himself shrewd and accurate views. The two 
thousand workpeople in his employment regarded 
him almost as a father, aid he carefully provided 
for their comfort and improvement. Prosperity did 
not spoil him, as it does so many; nor close his 
heart against the claims of the poor and struggling, 
who were always sure of his sympathy and help. 
To provide for the education of the children of his 
workpeople, he built schools for them at a cost of 
about 6ooo/. He was also a man of singularly 
cheerful and buoyant disposition, a favourite with 
men of all classes, and most admired and beloved 
by those who knew him best. 

In 1831 the electors of Tiverton, of which town 
Mr. Heathcoat had proved himself so genuine a 
benefactor, returned him to represent them in 
Parliament, and he continued their member for 
nearly thirty years. During a great part of that 
time he had Lord Palmerston for his colleague, 
and the noble lord, on more than one public 
occasion, expressed the high regard which he 
entertained for his venerable friend. On retiring 
from the representation in 1859, owing to advancing 
age and increasing infirmities, thirteen hundred 
of his workmen presented him with a silver ink- 
stand and gold pen, in token of their esteem. 
He enjoyed his leisure for only two more years, 
dying in January, 1861, at the age of seventy-seven, 
and leaving behind him a character for probity, 
virtue, manliness, and mechanical genius, of which 
his descendants may well be proud. 

We next turn to a career of a very different kind, 
that of the illustrious but unfortunate Jacquard 



whose life also illustrates in a remarkable manner 
the influence which ingenious men, even of the 
humblest rank, may exercise upon the industry 
of a nation. Jacquard was the son of a hardworking 
couple of Lyons, his father being a weaver, and 
his mother a pattern reader. They were too poor 
to give him any but the most meagre education. 
When he was of age to learn a trade, his father 
placed him with a bookbinder. An old clerk, who 
made up the master's accounts, gave Jacquard some 
lessons in mathematics. He very shortly began 
to display a remarkable turn for mechanics, and 
some of his contrivances quite astonished the 
old clerk, who advised Jacquard's father to put 
him to some other trade, in which his peculiar 
abilities might have better scope than in book- 
binding. He was accordingly put apprentice to 
a cutler ; but was so badly treated by his master, 
that he shortly afterwards left his employment, 
on which he was placed with a type-founder. 

His parents dying, Jacquard found himself in 
a measure compelled to take to his father's two 
looms, and carry on the trade of a weaver. He 
immediately proceeded to improve the looms, and 
became so engrossed with his inventions that he 
forgot his work, and very soon found himself at 
the end of his means. He then sold the looms 
to pay his debts, at the same time that he took 
upon himself the burden of supporting a wife. 
He became still poorer, and to satisfy his creditors, 
he next sold his cottage. He tried to find employ- 
ment, but in vain, people believing him to be 
an idler, occupied with mere dreams about his 
inventions. At length he obtained employment 
with a line-maker of Bresse, whither he went, his 


wife remaining at Lyons, earning a precarious 
living by making straw bonnets. 

We hear nothing further of Jacquard for some 
years, but in the interval he seems to have prose- 
cuted his improvement in the drawloom for the 
better manufacture of figured fabrics ; for, in 1790, 
he brought out his contrivance for selecting the 
warp threads, which, when added to the loom, 
superseded the services of a drawboy. The 
adoption of this machine was slow but steady, 
and in ten years after its introduction, 4000 of them 
were found at work in Lyons. Jacquard's pursuits 
were rudely interrupted by the Revolution, and, 
in 1792, we find him fighting in the ranks of the 
Lyonnaise Volunteers against the Army of the 
Convention under the command of Dubois Crance. 
The city was taken ; Jacquard fled and joined the 
Army of the Rhine, where he rose to the rank of 
sergeant. He might have remained a soldier, but 
that, his only son having been shot dead at his 
side, he deserted and returned to Lyons to recover 
his wife. He found her in a garret, still employed 
at her old trade of straw-bonnet making. While 
living in concealment with her, his mind reverted 
to the inventions over which he had so long 
brooded in former years; but he had no means 
wherewith to prosecute them. Jacquard found it 
necessary, however, to emerge from his hiding- 
place and try to find some employment. He 
succeeded in obtaining it with an intelligent manu- 
facturer, and while working by day he went on 
inventing by night. It had occurred to him that 
great improvements might still be introduced in 
looms for figured goods, and he incidentally men- 
tioned the subject one day to his master, regretting 


at the same time that his limited means prevented 
him from carrying out his ideas. Happily his 
master appreciated the value of the suggestions, 
and with laudable generosity placed a sum of money 
at his disposal, that he might prosecute the proposed 
improvements at his leisure. 

In three months Jacquard had invented a loom 
to substitute mechanical action for the irksome and 
toilsome labour of the workman. The loom was 
exhibited at the Exposition of National Industry 
at Paris in 1801, and obtained a bronze medal. 
Jacquard was further honoured by a visit at Lyons 
from the Minister Carnot, who desired to con- 
gratulate him in person on the success of his 
invention. In the following year the Society of 
Arts in London offered a prize for the invention 
of a machine for manufacturing fishing-nets and 
boarding-netting for ships. Jacquard heard of this, 
and while walking one day in the fields according 
to his custom, he turned the subject over in his 
mind, and contrived the plan of a machine for the 
purpose. His friend, the manufacturer, again 
furnished him with the means of carrying out 
his idea, and in three weeks Jacquard had completed 
his invention. 

Jacquard's achievement having come to the 
knowledge of the Prefect of the Department, he 
was summoned before that functionary, and, on 
his explanation of the working of the machine, 
a report on the subject was forwarded to the 
Emperor. The inventor was forthwith summoned 
to Paris with his machine, and brought into the 
presence of the Emperor, who received him with 
the consideration due to his genius. The interview 
lasted two hours, during which Jacquard, placed 


at his ease by the Emperor's affability, explained 
to him the improvements which he proposed to 
make in the looms for weaving figured goods. 
The result was, that he was provided with apart- 
ments in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, 
where he had the use of the workshop during his 
stay, and was provided with a suitable allowance 
for his maintenance. 

Installed in the Conservatoire, Jacquard pro- 
ceeded to complete the details of his improved loom. 
He had the advantage of minutely inspecting the 
various exquisite pieces of mechanism contained in 
that great treasury of human ingenuity. Among 
the machines which more particularly attracted his 
attention, and eventually set him upon the track 
of his discovery, was a loom for weaving flowered 
silk, made by Vaucanson the celebrated automaton- 

Vaucanson was a man of the highest order oi 
constructive genius. The inventive faculty was so 
strong in him that it may almost be said to have 
amounted to a passion, and could not be restrained. 
The saying that the poet is born, not made, applies 
with equal force to the inventor, who, though 
indebted, like the other, to culture and improved 
opportunities, nevertheless contrives and constructs 
new combinations of machinery mainly to gratify 
his own instinct. This was peculiarly the case 
with Vaucanson ; for his most elaborate works 
were not so much distinguished for their utility 
as for the curious ingenuity which they displayed. 
While a mere boy attending Sunday conversations 
with his mother, he amused himself by watching, 
through the chinks of a partition wall, part of the 
movements of a clock in the adjoining apartment, 


He endeavoured to understand them, and by 
brooding over the subject, after several months 
he discovered the principle of the escapement. 

From that time the subject of mechanical in- 
vention took complete possession of him. With 
some rude tools which he contrived, he made a 
wooden clock that marked the hours with remark- 
able exactness ; while he made for a miniature 
chapel the figures of some angels which waved 
their wings, and some priests that made several 
ecclesiastical movements. With the view of exe- 
cuting some other automata he had designed, he 
proceeded to study anatomy, music, and mechanics, 
which occupied him for several years. The sight 
of the Flute-player in the Gardens of the Tuileries 
inspired him with the resolution to invent a similar 
figure that should play, and after several years' 
study and labour, though struggling with illness, 
he succeeded in accomplishing his object. He next 
produced a Flageolet-player, which was succeeded 
by a Duck, the most ingenious of his contrivances, 
which swam, dabbled, drank, and quacked like a 
real duck. He next invented an asp, employed in 
the tragedy of ' Cleopatre,' which hissed and darted 
at the bosom of the actress. 

Vaucanson, however, did not confine himself 
merely to the making of automata. By reason of 
his ingenuity, Cardinal de Fleury appointed him 
inspector of the silk manufactories of France ; and 
he was no sooner in office, than with his usual 
irrepressible instinct to invent, he proceeded to 
introduce improvements in silk machinery. One 
of these was his mill for thrown silk, which so 
excited the anger of the Lyons operatives, who 
feared the loss of employment through its means. 


that they pelted him with stones and had nearly 
killed him. He nevertheless went on inventing, 
and next produced a machine for weaving flowered 
silks, with a contrivance for giving a dressing to 
the thread, so as to render that of each bobbin or 
skein of an equal thickness. 

When Vaucanson died in 1782, after a long 
illness, he bequeathed his collection of machines to 
the Queen, who seems to have set but small value 
on them, and they were shortly after dispersed. 
But his machine for weaving flowered silks was 
happily preserved in the Conservatoire des Arts et 
Metiers, and there Jacquard found it among the 
many curious and interesting articles in the collec- 
tion. It proved of the utmost value to him, for it 
immediately set him on the track of the principal 
modification which he introduced in his improved 

One of the chief features of Vaucanson's machine 
was a pierced cylinder which, according to the 
holes it presented when revolved, regulated the 
movement of certain needles, and caused the threads 
of the warp to deviate in such a manner as to 
produce a given design, though only of a simple 
character. Jacquard seized upon the suggestion 
with avidity, and, with the genius of the true 
inventor, at once proceeded to improve upon it. 
At the end of a month his weaving-machine was 
completed. To the cylinder of Vaucanson, he 
added an endless piece of pasteboard pierced with 
a number of holes, through which the threads of 
the warp were presented to the weaver; while 
another piece of mechanism indicated to the work- 
man the colour of the shuttle which he ought to 
throw. Thus the drawboy and the reader of 


designs were both at once superseded. The first 
use Jacquard made of his new loom was to weave 
with it several yards of rich stuff which he presented 
to the Empress Josephine. Napoleon was highly 
gratified with the result of the inventor's labours, 
and ordered a number of the looms to be con- 
structed by the best workmen, after Jacquard's 
model, and presented to him ; after which he 
returned to Lyons. 

There he experienced the frequent fate of 
inventors. He was regarded by his townsmen as 
an enemy, and treated by them as Kay, Hargreaves, 
and Arkwright had been in Lancashire. The 
workmen looked upon the new loom as fatal to 
their trade, and feared lest it should at once take 
the bread from their mouths. A tumultuous 
meeting was held on the Place des Terreaux, when 
it was determined to destroy the machines. This 
was however prevented by the military. But 
Jacquard was denounced and hanged in effigy. 
The ' Conseil des prud'hommes ' in vain en- 
deavoured to allay the excitement, and they were 
themselves denounced. At length, carried away 
by the popular impulse, the prud'hommes, most of 
whom had been workmen and sympathized with 
the class, had one of Jacquard's looms carried off 
and publicly broken in pieces. Riots followed, in 
one of which Jacquard was dragged along the quay 
by an infuriated mob intending to drown him, but 
he was rescued. 

The great value of the Jacquard loom, however, 
could not be denied, and its success was only a 
question of time. Jacquard was urged by some 
English silk manufacturers to pass over into 
England and settle there. But notwithstanding 


the harsh and cruel treatment he had received at 
the hands of his townspeople, his patriotism was 
too strong to permit him to accept their offer. 
The English manufacturers, however, adopted his 
loom. Then it was, and only then, that Lyons, 
threatened to be beaten out of the field, adopted it 
with eagerness ; and before long the Jacquard 
machine was employed in nearly all kinds of 
weaving. The result proved that the fears of the 
workpeople had been entirely unfounded. Instead 
of diminishing employment, the Jacquard loom 
increased it at least tenfold. The number of persons 
occupied in the manufacture of figured goods in 
Lyons, was stated by M. Leon Faucher to have been 
60,000 in 1833; and that number has since been 
considerably increased. 

As for Jacquard himself, the rest of his life 
passed peacefully, excepting that the workpeople 
who dragged him along the quay to drown him 
were shortly after found eager to bear him in 
triumph along the same route in celebration of his 
birthday. But his modesty would not permit him 
to take part in such a demonstration. The Muni- 
cipal Council of Lyons proposed to him that he 
should devote himself to improving his machine 
for the benefit of the local industry, to which 
Jacquard agreed in consideration of a moderate 
pension, the amount of which was fixed by himself. 
After perfecting his invention accordingly, he 
retired at sixty to end his days at Oullins, his 
father's native place. It was there that he received, 
in 1820, the decoration of the Legion of Honour ; 
and it was there that he died and was buried in 
1834. A statue was erected to his memory, but 
his relatives remained in poverty ; and twenty 


years after his death, his two nieces were under 
the necessity of selling for a few hundred francs 
the gold medal bestowed upon their uncle by 
Louis XVIII. "Such," says a French writer, "was 
the gratitude of the manufacturing interests of 
Lyons to the man to whom it owes so large a 
portion of its splendour." 

It would be easy to extend the martyrology of 
inventors, and to cite the names of other equally 
distinguished men who have, without any corre- 
sponding advantage to themselves, contributed to 
the industrial progress of the age, for it has too 
often happened that genius has planted the tree, of 
which patient dulness has gathered the fruit; but 
we will confine ourselves for the present to a brief 
account of an inventor of comparatively recent date, 
by way of illustration of the difficulties and priva- 
tions which it is so frequently the lot of mechanical 
genius to surmount. We allude to Joshua Heil- 
mann, the inventor of the combing-machine. 

Heilmann was born in 1796 at Mulhouse, the 
principal seat of the Alsace cotton manufacture. 
His father was engaged in that business; and 
Joshua entered his office at fifteen. He remained 
there for two years, employing his spare time in 
mechanical drawing. He afterwards spent two 
years in his uncle's banking-house in Paris, prose- 
cuting the study of mathematics in the evenings. 
Some of his relatives having established a small 
cotton-spinning factory at Mulhouse, young Heil- 
mann was placed with Messrs. Tissot & Rey, 
at Paris, to learn the practice of that firm. At the 
same time he became a student at the Conservatoire 
des Arts et Metiers, where he attended the lectures, 
and studied the machines in the museum. He also 


took practical lessons in turning from a toymaker. 
After some time, thus diligently occupied, he re- 
turned to Alsace, to superintend the construction of 
the machinery for the new factory at Vieux-Thann, 
which was shortly finished and set to work. The 
operations of the manufactory were, however, 
seriously affected by a commercial crisis which 
occurred, and it passed into other hands, on which 
Heilmann returned to his family at Mulhouse. 

He had in the mean time been occupying much 
of his leisure with inventions, more particularly 
in connexion with the weaving of cotton and the 
preparation of the staple for spinning. One of 
his earliest contrivances was an embroidering- 
machine, in which twenty needles were employed, 
working simultaneously ; and he succeeded in 
accomplishing his object after about six months' 
labour. For this invention, which he exhibited 
at the Exposition of 1834, he received a gold medal, 
and was decorated with the Legion of Honour. 
Other inventions quickly followed an improved 
loom, a machine for measuring and folding fabrics, 
an improvement of the " bobbin- and fly-frames " of 
the English spinners, and a weft winding-machine, 
with various improvements in the machinery for 
preparing, spinning, and weaving silk and cotton. 
One of his most ingenious contrivances was his 
loom for weaving simultaneously two pieces of 
velvet or other piled fabric, united by the pile 
common to both, with a knife and traversing 
apparatus for separating the two fabrics when 
woven. But by far the most beautiful and ingenious 
of his inventions was the combing-machine, the 
history of which we now proceed shortly to 


Heilmann had for some years been diligently 
studying the contrivance of a machine for combing 
long-stapled cotton, the ordinary carding-machine 
being found ineffective in preparing the raw material 
for spinning, especially the finer sort of yarn, 
besides causing considerable waste. To avoid 
these imperfections, the cotton-spinners of Alsace 
offered a prize of 5000 francs for an improved 
combing-machine, and Heilmann immediately pro- 
ceeded to compete for the reward. He was not 
stimulated by the desire of gain, for he was com- 
paratively rich, having acquired a considerable 
fortune by his wife. It was a saying of his that 
"one will never accomplish great things who is 
constantly asking himself, how much gain will this 
bring me?" What mainly impelled him was the 
irrepressible instinct of the inventor, who no sooner 
has a mechanical problem set before him than he 
feels impelled to undertake its solution. The problem 
in this case was, however, much more difficult 
than he had anticipated. The close study of the 
subject occupied him for several years, and the 
expenses in which he became involved in con- 
nexion with it were so great, that his wife's 
fortune was shortly swallowed up, and he was 
reduced to poverty, without being able to bring 
his machine to perfection. From that time he was 
under the necessity of relying mainly on the help 
of his friends to enable him to prosecute the 

While still struggling with poverty and diffi- 
culties, Heilmann's wife died, believing her husband 
ruined ; and shortly after he proceeded to England 
and settled for a time at Manchester, still labouring 
at his machine. He had a model made for him by 


the eminent machine-makers, Sharpe, Roberts 
& Company; but still he could not make it work 
satisfactorily, and he was at length brought almost 
to the verge of despair. He returned to France 
to visit his family, still pursuing his idea, which 
had obtained complete possession of his mind. 
While sitting by his hearth one evening, meditating 
upon the hard fate of inventors and the misfortunes 
in which their families so often become involved, he 
found himself almost unconsciously watching his 
daughters combing their long hair and drawing it out 
at full length between their fingers. The thought 
suddenly struck him that if he could successfully 
imitate in a machine the process of combing out 
the longest hair and forcing back the short by 
reversing the action of the comb, it might serve 
to extricate him from his difficulty. It may be re- 
membered that this incident in the life of Heilmann 
has been made the subject of a beautiful picture 
by Mr. Elmore, R.A., which was exhibited at the 
Royal Academy Exhibition of 1862. 

Upon this idea he proceeded, introduced the 
apparently simple but really most intricate process 
of machine-combing, and after great labour he suc- 
ceeded in perfecting the invention. The singular 
beauty of the process can only be appreciated by 
those who have witnessed the machine at work, 
when the similarity of its movements to that of 
combing the hair, which suggested the invention, 
is at once apparent. The machine has been de- 
scribed as " acting with almost the delicacy of touch 
of the human fingers." It combs the lock of cotton 
at both ends, places the fibres exactly parallel with 
each other, separates the long from the short, and 
unites the long fibres in one sliver and the short 


ones in another. In fine, the machine not only 
acts with the delicate accuracy of the human fingers, 
but apparently with the delicate intelligence of the 
human mind. 

The chief commercial value of the invention 
consisted in its rendering the commoner sorts of 
cotton available for fine spinning. The manu- 
facturers were thereby enabled to select the most 
suitable fibres for high-priced fabrics, and to pro- 
duce the finer sorts of yarn in much larger 
quantities. It became possible by its means to 
make thread so fine that a length of 334 miles 
might be spun from a single pound weight of 
the prepared cotton, and, worked up into the finer 
sorts of lace, the original shilling's worth of cotton- 
wool, before it passed into the hands of the con- 
sumer, might thus be increased to the value of 
between 30O/. and 4OO/. sterling. 

The beauty and utility of Heilmann's invention 
were at once appreciated by the English cotton- 
spinners. Six Lancashire firms united and pur- 
chased the patent for cotton-spinning for England 
for the sum of 3O,ooo/. ; the wool-spinners paid the 
same sum for the privilege of applying the process 
to wool; and the Messrs. Marshall, of Leeds, 
2o,ooo/. for the privilege of applying it to flax. Thus 
wealth suddenly flowed in upon poor Heilmann 
at last. But he did not live to enjoy it. Scarcely 
had his long labours been crowned by success than 
he died, and his son, who had shared in his pri- 
vations, shortly followed him. 

It is at the price of lives such as these that 
the wonders of civilization are achieved. 



" Patience is the finest and worthiest part of fortitude, and the rarest too. 
. . Patience lies at the root of all pleasures, as well as of all powers. Hope 
herself ceases to be happiness when Impatience companions \\er."JoAn 

" II y a vingt et cinq ans passez qu'il ne me fut monstre" une coupe de 
terre, tournee et esmaillee d'une telle beaute que . . . deslors, sans avoir 
esgard que je n'avois nulle connoissance des terres argileuses, je me mis 
a chercher les e"maux, comme un homme qui taste en tenebres." Bernard 

IT so happens that the history of Pottery furnishes 
some of the most remarkable instances of 
patient perseverance to be found in the whole 
range of biography. Of these we select three of 
the most striking, as exhibited in the lives of 
Bernard Palissy, the Frenchman ; Johann Friedrich 
BcHtgher, the German ; and Josiah Wedgwood, the 

Though the art of making common vessels of 
clay was known to most of the ancient nations, 
that of manufacturing enamelled earthenware was 
much less common. It was, however, practised by 
the ancient Etruscans, specimens of whose ware 
are still to be found in antiquarian collections. 
But it became a lost art, and was only recovered 



at a comparatively recent date. The Etruscan 
ware was very valuable in ancient times, a vase 
being worth its weight in gold in the time of 
Augustus. The Moors seem to have preserved 
amongst them a knowledge of the art, which they 
were found practising in the island of Majorca 
when it was taken by the Pisans in 1115. Among 
the spoil carried away were many plates of 
Moorish earthenware, which, in token of triumph, 
were embedded in the walls of several of the 
ancient churches of Pisa, where they are to be 
seen to this day. About two centuries later the 
Italians began to make an imitation enamelled 
ware, which they named Majolica, after the Moorish 
place of manufacture. 

The reviver or re-discoverer of the art of 
enamelling in Italy was Luca della Robbia, a 
Florentine sculptor. Vasari describes him as a 
man of indefatigable perseverance, working with 
his chisel all day and practising drawing during 
the greater part of the night. He pursued the 
latter art with so much assiduity, that when 
working late, to prevent his feet from freezing 
with the cold, he was accustomed to provide 
himself with a basket of shavings, in which he 
placed them to keep himself warm and enable him 
to proceed with his drawings. " Nor," says Vasari, 
" am I in the least astonished at this, since no man 
ever becomes distinguished in any art whatsoever 
who does not early begin to acquire the power 
of supporting heat, cold, hunger, thirst, and other 
discomforts ; whereas those persons deceive them- 
selves altogether who suppose that when taking 
their ease and surrounded by all the enjoyments 
of the world they may still attain to honourable 


distinction, for it is not by sleeping, but by 
waking, watching, and labouring continually, that 
proficiency is attained and reputation acquired. 

But Luca, notwithstanding all his application 
and industry, did not succeed in earning enough 
money by sculpture to enable him to live by the 
art, and the idea occurred to him that he might 
nevertheless be able to pursue his modelling in 
some material more facile and less dear than 
marble. Hence it was that he began to make his 
models in clay, and to endeavour by experiment 
so to coat and bake the clay as to render those 
models durable. After many trials he at length 
discovered a method of covering the clay with a 
material, which, when exposed to the intense heat 
of a furnace, became converted into an almost 
imperishable enamel. He afterwards made the 
further discovery of a method of imparting colour 
to the enamel, thus greatly adding to its beauty. 

The fame of Luca's work extended throughout 
Europe, and specimens of his art became widely 
diffused. Many of them were sent into France and 
Spain, where they were greatly prized. At that 
time coarse brown jars and pipkins were almost 
the only articles of earthenware produced in 
France ; and this continued to be the case, with 
comparatively small improvement, until the time 
of Palissy a man who toiled and fought against 
stupendous difficulties with a heroism that sheds 
a glow almost of romance over the events of his 
chequered life. 

Bernard Palissy is supposed to have been born 
in the south of France, in the diocese of Agen, 
about the year 1510. His father was probably a 
worker in glass, to which trade Bernard was 



brought up. His parents were poor people too 
poor to give him the benefit of any school education. 
" I had no other books," said he afterwards, " than 
heaven and earth, which are open to all." He 
learnt, however, the art of glass-painting, to which 
he added that of drawing, and afterwards reading 
and writing. 

When about eighteen years old, the glass trade 
becoming decayed, Palissy left his father's house, 
with his wallet on his back, and went out into the 
world to search whether there was any place in 
it for him. He first travelled towards Gascony, 
working at his trade where he could find employ- 
ment, and occasionally occupying part of his time 
in land-measuring. Then he travelled northwards, 
sojourning for various periods at different places in 
France, Flanders, and Lower Germany. 

Thus Palissy occupied about ten more years 
of his life, after which he married, and ceased from 
his wanderings, settling down to practise glass- 
painting and land-measuring at the small town of 
Saintes, in the Lower Charente. There children 
were born to him ; and not only his responsibilities 
but his expenses increased, while, do what he 
could, his earnings remained too small for his needs. 
It was therefore necessary for him to bestir himself. 
Probably he felt capable of better things than 
drudging in an employment so precarious as glass- 
painting; and hence he was induced to turn his 
attention to the kindred art of painting and 
enamelling earthenware. Yet on this subject he 
was wholly ignorant ; for he had never seen earth 
baked before he began his operations. He had 
therefore everything to learn by himself, without 
any helper. But he was full of hope, eager to 


learn, of unbounded perseverance and inexhaustible 

It was the sight of an elegant cup of Italian 
manufacture most probably one of Luca della 
Robbia's make which first set Palissy a-thinking 
about the new art. A circumstance so apparently 
insignificant would have produced no effect upon 
an ordinary mind, or even upon Palissy himself 
at an ordinary time ; but occuring as it did when 
he was meditating a change of calling, he at once 
became inflamed with the desire of imitating it. 
The sight of this cup disturbed his whole existence ; 
and the determination to discover the enamel with 
which it was glazed thenceforward possessed him 
like a passion. Had he been a single man he 
might have travelled into Italy in search of the 
secret ; but he was bound to his wife and his child- 
ren, and could not leave them ; so he remained 
by their side groping in the dark in the hope of 
finding out the process of making and enamelling 

At first he could merely guess the materials of 
which the enamel was composed ; and he proceeded 
to try all manner of experiments to ascertain what 
they really were. He pounded all the substances 
which he supposed were likely to produce it. Then 
he bought common earthen pots, broke them into 
pieces, and, spreading his compounds over them, 
subjected them to the heat of a furnace which 
he erected for the purpose of baking them. His 
experiments failed ; and the results were broken 
pots and a waste of fuel, drugs, time, and labour. 
Women do not readily sympathize with experiments 
whose only tangible effect is to dissipate the means 
of buying clothes and food for their children ; and 


Palissy's wife, however dutiful in other respects, 
could not be reconciled to the purchase of more 
earthen pots, which seemed to her to be bought 
only to be broken. Yet she must needs submit ; 
for Palissy had become thoroughly possessed by 
the determination to master the secret of the enamel, 
and would not leave it alone. 

For many successive months and years Palissy 
pursued his experiments. The first furnace having 
proved a failure, he proceeded to erect another 
out of doors. There he burnt more wood, spoiled 
more drugs and pots, and lost more time, until 
poverty stared him and his family in the face. 
" Thus," said he, " I fooled away several years, 
with sorrow and sighs, because I could not at all 
arrive at my intention." In the intervals of his 
experiments he occasionally worked at his former 
callings, painting on glass, drawing portraits, and 
measuring land ; but his earnings from these 
sources were very small. At length he was no 
longer able to carry on his experiments in his own 
furnace because of the heavy cost of fuel ; but he 
bought more potsherds, broke them up as before 
into three or four hundred pieces, and, covering 
them with chemicals, carried them to a tile-work 
a league and a half distant from Saintes, there to 
be baked in an ordinary furnace. After the opera- 
tion he went to see the pieces taken out ; and, to 
his dismay, the whole of the experiments were 
failures. But though disappointed, he was not yet 
defeated ; for he determined on the very spot to 
"begin afresh." 

His business as a land-measurer called him away 
for a brief season from the pursuit of his experi- 
ments. In conformity with an edict of the State, 


it became necessary to survey the salt-marshes in 
the neighbourhood of Saintes for the purpose of 
levying the land-tax. Palissy was employed to 
make this survey, and prepare the requisite map. 
The work occupied him some time, and he was 
doubtless well paid for it ; but no sooner was it 
completed than he proceeded, with redoubled zeal, 
to follow up his old investigations " in the track 
of the enamels." He began by breaking three 
dozen new earthen pots, the pieces of which he 
covered with different materials which he had 
compounded, and then took them to a neighbouring 
glass-furnace to be baked. The results gave him 
a glimmer of hope. The greater heat of the glass- 
furnace had melted some of the compounds ; but 
though Palissy searched diligently for the white 
enamel he could find none. 

For two more years he went on experimenting 
without any satisfactory result, until the proceeds 
of his survey of the salt-marshes having become 
nearly spent, he was reduced to poverty again. 
But he resolved to make a last great effort ; and 
he began by breaking more pots than ever. More 
than three hundred pieces of pottery covered with 
his compounds were sent to the glass-furnace ; and 
thither he himself went to watch the results of the 
baking. Four hours passed, during which he 
watched ; and then the furnace was opened. The 
material on one only of the three hundred pieces 
of potsherd had melted, and it was taken out to 
cool. As it hardened, it grew white white and 
polished ! The piece of potsherd was covered with 
white enamel, described by Palissy as " singularly 
beautiful ! " And beautiful it must no doubt have 
been in his eyes after all his weary waiting. He 


ran home with it to his wife, feeling himself, as he 
expressed it, quite a new creature. But the prize 
was not yet won far from it. The partial success 
of this intended last effort merely had the effect 
of luring him on to a succession of further experi- 
ments and failures. 

In order that he might complete the invention, 
which he now believed to be at hand, he resolved 
to build for himself a glass-furnace near his dwelling, 
where he might carry on his operations in secret. 
He proceeded to build the furnace with his own 
hands, carrying the bricks from the brick-field upon 
his back. He was bricklayer, labourer, and all. 
From seven to eight more months passed. At last 
the furnace was built and ready for use. Palissy 
had in the mean time fashioned a number of vessels 
of clay in readiness for the laying on of the enamel. 
After being subjected to a preliminary process of 
baking, they were covered with the enamel com- 
pound, and again placed in the furnace for the 
grand crucial experiment. Although his means 
were nearly exhausted, Palissy had been for some 
time accumulating a great store of fuel for the final 
effort; and he thought it was enough. At last 
the fire was lit, and the operation proceeded. All 
day he sat by the furnace, feeding it with fuel. He 
sat there watching and feeding all through the long 
night. But the enamel did not melt. The sun rose 
upon his labours. His wife brought him a portion 
of the scanty morning meal, for he would not stir 
from the furnace, into which he continued from 
time to time to heave more fuel. The second day 
passed, and still the enamel did not melt. The sun 
set, and another night passed. The pale, haggard, 
unshorn, baffled yet not beaten Palissy sat by his 


furnace eagerly looking for the melting of the 
enamel. A third day and night passed a fourth, a 
fifth, and even a sixth, yes, for six long days and 
nights did the unconquerable Palissy watch and 
toil, fighting against hope; and still the enamel 
would not melt. 

It then occurred to him that there might be some 
defect in the materials for the enamel perhaps 
something wanting in the flux ; so he set to work 
to pound and compound fresh materials for a new 
experiment. Thus two or three more weeks passed. 
But how to buy more pots? for those which he 
had made with his own hands for the purposes of 
the first experiment were by long baking irretriev- 
ably spoilt for the purposes of a second. His money 
was now all spent ; but he could borrow. His 
character was still good, though his wife and the 
neighbours thought him foolishly wasting his means 
in futile experiments. Nevertheless he succeeded. 
He borrowed sufficient from a friend to enable him 
to buy more fuel and more pots, and he was again 
ready for a further experiment. The pots were 
covered with the new compound, placed in the 
furnace, and the fire was again lit. 

It was the last and most desperate experiment of 
the whole. The fire blazed up ; the heat became 
intense ; but still the enamel did not melt. The 
fuel began to run short ! How to keep up the fire ? 
There were the garden palings : these would burn. 
They must be sacrificed rather than that the great 
experiment should fail. The garden palings were 
pulled up and cast into the furnace. They were 
burnt in vain ! The enamel had not yet melted. 
Ten minutes more heat might do it. Fuel must be 
had at whatever cost. There remained the house- 


hold furniture and shelving. A crashing noise was 
heard in the house ; and amidst the screams of his 
wife and children, who now feared Palissy's reason 
was giving way, the tables were seized, broken up, 
and heaved into the furnace. The enamel had not 
melted yet ! There remained the shelving. -Another 
noise of the wrenching of timber was heard within 
the house ; and the shelves were torn down and 
hurled after the furniture into the fire. Wife and 
children then rushed from the house, and went 
frantically through the town, calling out that poor 
Palissy had gone mad, and was breaking up his 
very furniture for firewood ! * 

For an entire month his shirt had not been 
off his back, and he was utterly worn out wasted 
with toil, anxiety, watching, and want of food. 
He was in debt, and seemed on the verge of ruin. 
But he had at length mastered the secret ; for the 

* Palissy's own words are : " Le bois m'ayant failli, je fus 
contraint brusler les estapes (e*taies) qui soustenoyent les tailles de 
mon jardin, lesquelles estant bruslees, je fus contraint brusler les 
tables et plancher de la maison, afin de faire fondre la seconde 
composition. J'estois en une telle angoisse que je ne sc.aurois 
dire : car j'estois tout tari et deseche k cause du labeur et de la 
chaleur du fourneau ; il y avoit plus d'un mois que ma chemise 
n'avoit seiche sur moy, encores pour me consoler on se moquoit de 
moy, et mesme ceux qui me devoient secourir alloient crier par la 
ville que je faisois brusler le plancher : et par tel moyen 1'on me 
faisoit perdre mon credit et m'estimoit-on estre fol. Les autres 
disoient que je cherchois a faire la fausse monnoye, qui estoit un 
mal qui me faisoit seicher sur les pieds ; et m'en allois par les rues 
tout baisse* comme un homme honteux : . . . personne ne me 
secouroit : Mais au contraire ils se mocquoyent de moy^en disant : 
II luy appartient bien de mourir de faim, par ce qu'il delaisse son 
mestier. Toutes ces nouvelles venoyent a mes aureilles quand je 
passois par la rue." ' CEuvres Completes de Palissy. Paris, 
1844' ; De 1'Art de Terre, p. 315. 


last great burst of heat had melted the enamel. 
The common brown household jars, when taken 
out of the furnace after it had become cool, were 
found covered with a white glaze ! For this he 
could endure reproach, contumely, and scorn, 
and wait patiently for the opportunity of putting 
his discovery into practice as better days came 

Palissy next hired a potter to make some earthen 
vessels after designs which he furnished ; while 
he himself proceeded to model some medallions 
in clay for the purpose of enamelling them. But 
how to maintain himself and his family until the 
wares were made and ready for sale ? Fortunately 
there remained one man in Saintes who still believed 
in the integrity, if not in the judgment, of Palissy 
an inn-keeper, who agreed to feed and lodge 
him for six months, while he went on with his 
manufacture. As for the working potter whom 
he had hired, Palissy soon found that he could 
not pay him the stipulated wages. Having already 
stripped his dwelling, he could but strip himself; 
and he accordingly parted with some of his clothes 
to the potter, in part payment of the wages which 
he owed him. 

Palissy next erected an improved furnace, but 
he was so unfortunate as to build part of the inside 
with flints. When it was heated, these flints 
cracked and burst, and the spiculae were scattered 
over the pieces of pottery, sticking to them. Though 
the enamel came out right, the work was irretriev- 
ably spoilt, and thus six more months' labour was 
lost. Persons were found willing to buy the 
articles at a low price, notwithstanding the injury 
they had sustained ; but Palissy would not sell 


them, considering that to have done so would be 
to " decry and abase his honour " ; and so he broke 
in pieces the entire batch. " Nevertheless," says 
he, " hope continued to inspire me, and I held on 
manfully ; sometimes, when visitors called, I enter- 
tained them with pleasantry, while I was really 
sad at heart. . . . Worst of all the sufferings I had 
to endure, were the mockeries and persecutions 
of those of my own household, who were so un- 
reasonable as to expect me to execute work without 
the means of doing so. For years my furnaces were 
without any covering or protection, and while at- 
tending them I have been for nights at the mercy of 
the wind and the rain, without help or consolation, 
save it might be the wailing of cats on the one 
side and the howling of dogs on the other. Some- 
times the tempest would beat so furiously against 
the furnaces that I was compelled to leave them 
and seek shelter within doors. Drenched by rain, 
and in no better plight than if I had been dragged 
through mire, I have gone to lie down at midnight 
or at daybreak, stumbling into the house without 
a light, and reeling from one side to another as 
if I had been drunken, but really weary with 
watching and filled with sorrow at the loss of my 
labour after such long toiling. But alas ! my home 
proved no refuge ; for, drenched and besmeared 
as I was, I found in my chamber a second perse- 
cution worse than the first, which makes me even 
now marvel that I was not utterly consumed by 
my many sorrows." 

At this stage of his affairs, Palissy became 
melancholy and almost hopeless, and seems to have 
all but broken down. He wandered gloomily 
about the fields near Saintes, his clothes hanging 


in tatters, and himself worn to a skeleton. In a 
curious passage in his writings he describes how 
that the calves of his legs had disappeared and 
were no longer able with the help of garters to 
hold up his stockings, which fell about his heels 
when he walked.* The family continued to re- 
proach him for his recklessness, and his neighbours 
cried shame upon him for his obstinate folly. So 
he returned for a time to his former calling ; and 
after about a year's diligent labour, during which 
he earned bread for his household and somewhat 
recovered his character among his neighbours, 
he again resumed his darling enterprise. But 
though he had already spent about ten years in the 
search for the enamel, it cost him nearly eight 
more years of experimental plodding before he 
perfected his invention. He gradually learnt dex- 
terity and certainty of result by experience, 
gathering practical knowledge out of many failures. 
Every mishap was a fresh lesson to him, teaching 
him something new about the nature of enamels, 
the qualities of argillaceous earths, the tempering 
of clays, and the construction and management 
of furnaces. 

At last, after about sixteen years' labour, Palissy 
took heart and called himself Potter. These sixteen 

* "Toutes ces fautes m'ont cause" un tel lasseur et tristesse 
d'esprit, qu'auparavant que j'aye rendu mes emaux fusible a un 
mesme degre de feu, j'ay cuide entrer jusques a la porte du 
sepulchre : aussi en me travaillant a tels affaires je me suis trouve 
1'espace de plus se dix ans si fort escoule en ma personne, qu'il n'y 
avoit aucune forme ny apparence de bosse aux bras ny aux jambes : 
ains estoyent mes dites jambes toutes d'une venue : de sorte que 
les liens de quoy j'attachois mes bas de chausses estoyent, soudain 
que je cheminois, sur les talons avec le residu de mes chaussees." 
' CEuvres,' 319-20. 


years had been his term of apprenticeship to the 
art ; during which he had wholly to teach himself, 
beginning at the very beginning. He was now 
able to sell his wares and thereby maintain his 
family in comfort. But he never rested satisfied 
with what he had accomplished. He proceeded 
from one step of improvement to another ; always 
aiming at the greatest perfection possible. He 
studied natural objects for patterns, and with such 
success that the great Buffon spoke of him as 
" so great a naturalist as Nature only can produce." 
His ornamental pieces are now regarded as rare 
gems in the cabinets of virtuosi, and sell at almost 
fabulous prices.* The ornaments on them are 
for the most part accurate models from life, of 
wild animals, lizards, and plants, found in the 
fields about Saintes, and tastefully combined as 
ornaments into the texture of a plate or vase. 
When Palissy had reached the height of his art 
he styled himself " Ouvrier de Terre et Inventeur 
des Rustics Figulines." 

We have not, however, come to an end of the 
sufferings of Palissy, respecting which a few words 
remain to be said. Being a Protestant, at a time 
when religious persecution waxed hot in the south 
of France, and expressing his views without fear, 
he was regarded as a dangerous heretic. His 
enemies having informed against him, his house 
at Saintes was entered by the officers of "justice," 
and his workshop was thrown open to the rabble, 
who entered and smashed his pottery, while he 
himself was hurried off by night and cast into a 

* At the sale of Mr. Bernal's articles of vertu in London a few 
years since, one of Palissy's small dishes, 12 inches in diameter, 
with a lizard in the centre, sold for i62/. 


dungeon at Bordeaux, to wait his turn at the stake 
or the scaffold. He was condemned to be burnt ; 
but a powerful noble, the Constable de Mont- 
morency, interposed to save his life not because 
he had any special regard for Palissy or his 
religion, but because no other artist could be 
found capable of executing the enamelled pave- 
ment for his magnificent chateau then in course 
of erection at Ecouen, about four leagues from 
Paris. By his influence an edict was issued 
appointing Palissy Inventor of Rustic Figulines 
to the King and to the Constable, which had 
the effect of immediately removing him from the 
jurisdiction of Bourdeaux. He was accordingly 
liberated, and returned to his home at Saintes only 
to find it devastated and broken up. His workshop 
was open to the sky, and his works lay in ruins. 
Shaking the dust of Saintes from his feet he left 
the place never to return to it, and removed to 
Paris to carry on the works ordered of him by 
the Constable and the Queen Mother, being 
lodged in the Tuileries* while so occupied. 

Besides carrying on the manufacture of pottery, 
with the aid of his two sons, Palissy, during the 
latter part of his life, wrote and published several 
books on the potter's art, with a view to the 
instruction of his countrymen, and in order that 
they might avoid the many mistakes which he 
himself had made. He also wrote on agriculture, 

* Within the last few months, Mr. Charles Read, a gentleman 
curious in matters of Protestant antiquarianism in France, has dis- 
covered one of the ovens in which Palissy baked his chefs-d'oeuvre. 
Several moulds of faces, plants, animals, &c., were dug up in a 
good state of preservation, bearing his well-known stamp. It is 
situated under the gallery of the Louvre, in the Place du Carrousel. 


on fortification, and natural history, on which latter 
subject he even delivered lectures to a limited 
number of persons. He waged war against astro- 
logy, alchemy, witchcraft, and like impostures. 
This stirred up against him many enemies, who 
pointed the finger at him as a heretic, and he 
was again arrested for his religion and imprisoned 
in the Bastille. He was now an old man of seventy- 
eight, trembling on the verge of the grave, but 
his spirit was as brave as ever. He was threat- 
ened with death unless he recanted ; but he was 
as obstinate in holding to his religion as he had 
been in hunting out the secret of the enamel. The 
king, Henry III., even went to see him in prison 
to induce him to abjure his faith. " My good 
man," said the King, "you have now served my 
mother and myself for forty-five years. We have 
put up with your adhering to your religion 
amidst fires and massacres : now I am so pressed 
by the Guise party as well as by my own people 
that I am constrained to leave you in the hands ot 
your enemies, and to-morrow you will be burnt 
unless you become converted." "Sire," answered 
the unconquerable old man, " I am ready to give 
my life for the glory of God. You have said many 
times that you have pity on me ; and now I have 
pity on you, who have pronounced the words / am 
constrained I It is not spoken like a king, sire ; it 
is what you, and those who constrain you, the 
Guisards and all your people, can never effect upon 
me, for I know how to die." * Palissy did indeed 

* D'Aubigne, 'Histoire Universelle.' The historian adds, 
" Voyez Pimpudence de ce bilistre ! vous diriez qu'il auroit lu ce 
vers de Seneque : ' On ne peut contraindre celui qui sait mourir : 
Qfti mori srit, cogi nescit."' 

CHAP, in] j. F. BOTTGHER 95 

die shortly after, a martyr, though not at the stake. 
He died in the Bastille, after enduring about a 
year's imprisonment, there peacefully terminating 
a life distinguished for heroic labour, extraordinary 
endurance, inflexible rectitude, and the exhibition 
of many rare and noble virtues.* 

The life of John Frederick Bottgher, the in- 
ventor of hard porcelain, presents a remarkable 
contrast to that of Palissy ; though it also contains 
many points of singular and almost romantic in- 
terest. Bottgher was born at Schleiz, in the 
Voightland, in 1685, and at twelve years of age was 
placed apprentice with an apothecary at Berlin. 
He seems to have been early fascinated by 
chemistry, and occupied most of his leisure in 
making experiments. These for the most part 
tended in one direction the art of converting 
common metals into gold. At the end of several 
years, Bottgher pretended to have discovered the 
universal solvent of the alchemists, and professed 
that he had made gold by its means. He exhibited 
its powers before his master, the apothecary ZOrn, 
and by some trick or other succeeded in making 
him and several other witnesses believe that he 
had actually converted copper into gold. 

The news spread abroad that the apothecary's 
apprentice had discovered the grand secret, and 
crowds collected about the shop to get a sight of 
the wonderful young " gold-cook." The king him- 
self expressed a wish to see and converse with him, 

* The subject of Palissy's life and labours has been ably and 
elaborately treated by Professor Morley in his well-known work. 
In the above brief narrative we have for the most part followed 
Palissy's own account of his experiments as given in his ' Art de 

96 J. F. BOTTGHER [CHAP, in 

and when Frederick I. was presented with a piece 
of the gold pretended to have been converted from 
copper, he was so dazzled with the prospect of 
securing an infinite quantity of it Prussia being 
then in great straits for money that he determined 
to secure Bottgher and employ him to make gold 
for him within the strong fortress of Spandau. But 
the young apothecary, suspecting the king's inten- 
tion, and probably fearing detection, at once re- 
solved on flight, and he succeeded in getting across 
the frontier into Saxony. 

A reward of a thousand thalers was offered for 
Bottgher's apprehension, but in vain. He arrived 
at Wittenberg, and appealed for protection to the 
Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus I. (King of 
Poland), surnamed " the Strong." Frederick was 
himself very much in want of money at the time, 
and he was overjoyed at the prospect of obtaining 
gold in any quantity by the aid of the young al- 
chemist. Bottgher was accordingly conveyed in 
secret to Dresden, accompanied by a royal escort. 
He had scarcely left Wittenberg when a battalion 
of Prussian grenadiers appeared before the gates 
demanding the gold-maker's extradition. But it 
was too late : Bottgher had already arrived in 
Dresden,where he was lodged in the Golden House, 
and treated with every consideration, though strictly 
watched and kept under guard. 

The Elector, however, must needs leave him 
there for a time, having to depart forthwith to 
Poland, then almost in a state of anarchy. But, 
impatient for gold, he wrote Bottgher from Warsaw, 
urging him to communicate the secret, so that he 
himself might practise the art of commutation. The 
young " gold-cook," thus pressed, forwarded to 


Frederick a small phial containing " a reddish fluid," 
which, it was asserted, changed all metals, when in 
a molten state, into gold. This important phial 
was taken in charge by the Prince Fiirst von Fiirsten- 
burg, who, accompanied by a regiment of Guards, 
hurried with it to Warsaw. Arrived there, it was 
determined to make immediate trial of the process. 
The King and the Prince locked themselves up in 
a secret chamber of the palace, girt themselves 
about with leather aprons, and like true " gold- 
cooks " set to work melting copper in a crucible 
and afterwards applying to it the red fluid of 
Bottgher. But the result was unsatisfactory ; for 
notwithstanding all that they could do, the copper 
obstinately remained copper. On referring to the 
alchemist's instructions, however, the King found 
that, to succeed with the process, it was necessary 
that the fluid should be used " in great purity of 
heart " ; and as his Majesty was conscious of having 
spent the evening in very bad company he attri- 
buted the failure of the experiment to that cause. A 
second trial was followed by no better results, and 
then the King became furious ; for he had confessed 
and received absolution before beginning the second 

Frederick Augustus now resolved on forcing 
Bottgher to disclose the golden secret, as the only 
means of relief from his urgent pecuniary difficulties. 
The alchemist, hearing of the royal intention, again 
determined to fly. He succeeded in escaping his 
guard, and, after three days' travel, arrived at Ens 
in Austria, where he thought himself safe. The 
agents of the Elector were, however, at his heels ; 
they had tracked him to the " Golden Stag," which 
they surrounded, and seizing him in his bed, 



notwithstanding his resistance and appeals to the 
Austrian authorities for help, they carried him by 
force to Dresden. From this time he was more 
strictly watched than ever, and he was shortly after 
transferred to the strong fortress of Koningstein. 
It was communicated to him that the royal exchequer 
was completely empty, and that ten regiments of 
Poles in arrears of pay were waiting for his gold. 
The King himself visited him, and told him in a 
severe tone that if he did not at once proceed to 
make gold, he would be hung ! (" Thu mir zurecht, 
Bottgher, sonst lass ich dich hangen."} 

Years passed, and still Bottgher made no gold ; 
but he was not hung. It was reserved for him 
to make a far more important discovery than 
the conversion of copper into gold, namely, the 
conversion of clay into porcelain. Some rare 
specimens of this ware had been brought by the 
Portuguese from China, which were sold for more 
than their weight in gold. Bottgher was first 
induced to turn his attention to the subject by 
Walter von Tschirnhaus, a maker of optical instru- 
ments, also an alchemist. Tschirnhaus was a man 
of education and distinction, and was held in much 
esteem by Prince Fiirstenburg as well as by the 
Elector. He very sensibly said to Bottgher, still in 
fear of the gallows " If you can't make gold, try 
and do something else ; make porcelain." 

The alchemist acted on the hint, and began his 
experiments, working night and day. He prosecuted 
his investigations for a long time with great assidu- 
ity, but without success. At length some red clay, 
brought to him for the purpose of making his 
crucibles, set him on the right track. He found 
that this clay, when submitted to a high temperature, 


became vitrified and retained its shape ; and that 
its texture resembled that of porcelain, excepting in 
colour and opacity. He had in fact accidentally 
discovered red porcelain, and he proceeded to 
manufacture it and sell it as porcelain. 

Bottgher was, however, well aware that the 
white colour was an essential property of true 
porcelain ; and he therefore prosecuted his experi- 
ments in the hope of discovering the secret. Several 
years thus passed, but without success ; until again 
accident stood his friend, and helped him to a know- 
ledge of the art of making white porcelain. One 
day, in the year 1707, he found his perruque un- 
usually heavy, and asked of his valet the reason. 
The answer was, that it was owing to the powder 
with which the wig was dressed, which consisted of 
a kind of earth then much used for hair powder. 
Bottgher's quick imagination immediately seized 
upon the idea. This white earthy powder might 
possibly be the very earth of which he was in 
search at all events the opportunity must not be 
let slip of ascertaining what it really was. He was 
rewarded for his painstaking care and watchful- 
ness ; for he found, on experiment, that the principal 
ingredient of the hair-powder consisted of kaolin, 
the want of which had so long formed an insuper- 
able difficulty in the way of his inquiries. 

The discovery, in Bottgher's intelligent hands, 
led to great results, and proved of far greater im- 
portance than the discovery of the philosopher's 
stone would have been. In October, 1707, he 
presented his first piece of porcelain to the Elector, 
who was greatly pleased with it; and it was 
resolved that Bottgher should be furnished with 
the means necessary for perfecting his invention. 

100 J. F. BOTTGHER [CHAP. Ill 

Having obtained a skilled workman from Delft, he 
began to turn porcelain with great success. He now 
entirely abandoned alchemy for pottery, and in- 
scribed over the door of his workshop this distich : 

" Es machte Gott, der grosse Schopfer, 
Aus einem Goldmacher einen Tofifer." * 

Bottgher, however, was still under strict sur- 
veillance, for fear lest he should communicate his 
secret to others or escape the Elector's control. 
The new workshops and furnaces which were 
erected for him, were guarded by troops night and 
day, and six superior officers were made respons- 
ible for the personal security of the potter. 

Bottgher's further experiments with his new 
furnaces proving very successful, and the porcelain 
which he manufactured being found to fetch large 
prices, it was next determined to establish a Royal 
Manufactory of porcelain. The manufacture of 
delft ware was known to have greatly enriched 
Holland. Why should not the manufacture of 
porcelain equally enrich the Elector ? Accordingly, 
a decree went forth, dated the 23rd of January, 1710, 
for the establishment of " a large manufactory of 
porcelain " at the Albrechtsburg in Meissen. In this 
decree, which was translated into Latin, French, 
and Dutch, and distributed by the Ambassadors 
of the Elector at all the European Courts, Frederick 
Augustus set forth that to promote the welfare 
of Saxony, which had suffered much through the 
Swedish invasion, he had " directed his attention 
to the subterranean treasures (imterirdischen 
Schatze}" of the country, and having employed 

* "Almighty God, the great Creator, 
Has changed a goldmaker to a potter." 


some able persons in the investigation, they had 
succeeded in manufacturing "a sort of red vessels 
(eine Art rother Gefasse) far superior to the Indian 
terra sigillata " ; * as also " coloured ware and 
plates (buntes Geschirr und Tafelri) which may be 
cut, ground, and polished, and are quite equal to 
Indian vessels," and finally that " specimens of 
white porcelain (Proben von weissem Porzellan) " 
had already been obtained, and it was hoped that 
this quality, too, would soon be manufactured in 
considerable quantities. The royal decree con- 
cluded by inviting " foreign artists and handicrafts- 
men " to come to Saxony and engage as assistants 
in the new factory, at high wages, and under the 
patronage of the King. This royal edict probably 
gives the best account of the actual state of 
Bottgher's invention at the time. 

It has been stated in German publications that 
Bottgher, for the great services rendered by him 
to the Elector and to Saxony, was made Manager 
of the Royal Porcelain Works, and further pro- 
moted to the dignity of Baron. Doubtless he 
deserved these honours ; but his treatment was 
of an altogether different character, for it was 
shabby, cruel, and inhuman. Two royal officials, 
named Matthieu and Nehmitz, were put over his 
head as directors of the factory, while he himself 
only held the position of foreman of potters, and 
at the same time was detained the King's prisoner. 
During the erection of the factory at Meissen, 
while his assistance was still indispensable, he was 

* The whole of the Chinese and Japanese porcelain was formerly 
known as Indian porcelain probably because it was first brought 
by the Portuguese from India to Europe, after the discovery of the 
Cape of Good Hope by Vasco da Gama. 

<02 J. F. BOTTGHER [CHAP, m 

conducted by soldiers to and from Dresden; and 
even after the works were finished, he was locked 
up nightly in his room. All this preyed upon his 
mind, and in repeated letters to the King he sought 
to obtain mitigation of his fate. Some of these 
letters are very touching. " I will devote my 
whole soul to the art of making porcelain," he 
writes on one occasion, " I will do more than any 
inventor ever did before; only give me liberty, 

To these appeals, the King turned a deaf ear. 
He was ready to spend money and grant favours ; 
but liberty he would not give. He regarded 
Bottgher as his slave. In this position the per- 
secuted man kept on working for some time, till, 
at the end of a year or two, he grew negligent. 
Disgusted with the world and with himself, he 
took to drinking. Such is the force of example, 
that it no sooner became known that Bottgher 
had betaken himself to this vice, than the greater 
number of the workmen at the Meissen factory 
became drunkards too. Quarrels and fightings 
without end were the consequence, so that the 
troops were frequently called upon to interfere and 
keep peace among the " Porzellanern," as they 
were nicknamed. After a while, the whole of them, 
more than three hundred, were shut up in the 
Albrechtsburg, and treated as prisoners of state. 

Bottgher at last fell seriously ill, and in May, 
1713, his dissolution was hourly expected. The 
King, alarmed at losing so valuable a slave, now 
gave him permission to take carriage exercise 
under a guard ; and, having somewhat recovered, 
he was allowed occasionally to go to Dresden. 
In a letter written by the King in April, 1714, 


Bottgher was promised his full liberty; but the 
offer came too late. Broken in body and mind, 
alternately working and drinking, though with 
occasional gleams of nobler intention, and suffering 
under constant ill-health, the result of his enforced 
confinement, Bottgher lingered on for a few years 
more, until death freed him from his sufferings 
on the isth of March, 1719, in the thirty-fifth year 
of his age. He was buried at night as if he had 
been a dog in the Johannis Cemetery of Meissen. 
Such was the treatment, and such the unhappy 
end, of one of Saxony's greatest benefactors. 

The porcelain manufacture immediately opened 
up an important source of public revenue, and it 
became so productive to the Elector of Saxony, 
that his example was shortly after followed by 
most European monarchs. Although soft porcelain 
had been made at St. Cloud fourteen years before 
B5ttgher's discovery, the superiority of the hard 
porcelain soon became generally recognized. Its 
manufacture was begun at Sevres in 1770, and it 
has since almost entirely superseded the softer 
material. This is now one of the most thriving 
branches of French industry, of which the high 
quality of the articles produced is certainly indis- 

The career of Josiah Wedgwood, the English 
potter, was less chequered and more prosperous than 
that of either Palissy or Bdttgher, and his lot was 
cast in happier times. Down to the middle of the 
eighteenth century England was behind most other 
nations of the first order in Europe in respect of 
skilled industry. Although there were many 
potters in Staffordshire and Wedgwood himself 
belonged to a numerous clan of potters of the same 


name their productions were of the rudest kind, 
for the most part only plain brown ware, with the 
pattern scratched in while the clay was wet. The 
principal supply of the better articles of earthen- 
ware came from Delft in Holland, and of drinking 
stone pots from Cologne. Two foreign potters, 
the brothers Elers from Nuremberg, settled for a 
time in Staffordshire, and introduced an improved 
manufacture, but they shortly after removed to 
Chelsea, where they confined themselves to the 
manufacture of ornamental pieces. No porcelain 
capable of resisting a scratch with a hard point 
had yet been made in England ; and for a long 
time the " white ware " made in Staffordshire was 
not white, but of a dirty cream colour. Such, in 
a few words, was the condition of the pottery 
manufacture when Josiah Wedgwood was born at 
Burslem in 1730. By the time that he died, sixty- 
four years later, it had become completely changed. 
By his energy, skill, and genius, he established the 
trade upon a new and solid foundation ; and, in 
the words of his epitaph, " converted a rude and 
inconsiderable manufacture into an elegant art and 
an important branch of national commerce." 

Josiah Wedgwood was one of those indefatigable 
men who from time to time spring from the ranks 
of the common people, and by their energetic 
character not only practically educate the working 
population in habits of industry, but by the ex- 
ample of diligence and perseverance which they 
set before them, largely influence the public activity 
in all directions, and contribute in a great degree 
to form the national character. He was, like Ark- 
wright, the youngest of a family of thirteen children. 
His grandfather and granduncle were both potters, 


as was also his father, who died when he was a 
mere boy, leaving him a patrimony of twenty 
pounds. He had learned to read and write at the 
village school; but on the death of his father he 
was taken from it and set to work as a " thrower " 
in a small pottery carried on by his elder brother. 
There he began life, his working life, to use his 
own words, "at the lowest round of the ladder," 
when only eleven years old. He was shortly after 
seized by an attack of virulent smallpox, from the 
effects of which he suffered during the rest of his 
life, for it was followed by a disease in the right 
knee, which recurred at frequent intervals, and 
was only got rid of by the amputation of the 
limb many years later. Mr. Gladstone, in his 
eloquent Eloge on Wedgwood recently delivered 
at Burslem, well observed that the disease from 
which he suffered was not improbably the occasion 
of his subsequent excellence. " It prevented him 
from growing up to be the active, vigorous English 
workman, possessed of all his limbs, and knowing 
right well the use of them ; but it put him upon 
considering whether, as he could not be that, he 
might not be something else, and something 
greater. It sent his mind inwards ; it drove him to 
meditate upon the laws and secrets of his art. The 
result was, that he arrived at a perception and a 
grasp of them which might, perhaps, have been 
envied, certainly have been owned, by an Athenian 
potter. " * 

When he had completed his apprenticeship with 
his brother, Josiah joined partnership with another 
workman, and carried on a small business in 

* ' Wedgwood : an Address delivered at Burslem, Oct. 26th. 
1863.' By the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P. 


making knife-hafts, boxes, and sundry articles for 
domestic use. Another partnership followed, when 
he proceeded to make melon table plates, green 
pickle leaves, candlesticks, snuff boxes, and such 
like articles ; but he made ' comparatively little 
progress until he began business on his own 
account at Burslem in the year 1759. There he dili- 
gently pursued his calling, introducing new articles 
to the trade, and gradually extending his business. 
What he chiefly aimed at was to manufacture 
cream-coloured ware of a better quality than was 
then produced in Staffordshire as regarded shape, 
colour, glaze, and durability. To understand the 
subject thoroughly, he devoted his leisure to the 
study of chemistry ; and he made numerous ex- 
periments on fluxes, glazes, and various sorts of 
clay. Being a close inquirer and accurate observer, 
he noticed that a certain earth containing silica, 
which was black before calcination, became white 
after exposure to the heat of a furnace. This fact, 
observed and pondered on, led to the idea of 
mixing silica with the red powder of the potteries, 
and to the discovery that the mixture becomes 
white when calcined. He had but to cover this 
material with a vitrification of transparent glaze, to 
obtain one of the most important products of fictile 
art that which, under the name of English 
earthenware, was to attain the greatest commercial 
value and become of the most extensive utility. 

Wedgwood was for some time much troubled 
by his furnaces, though nothing like to the same 
extent that Palissy was ; and he overcame his 
difficulties in the same way by repeated ex- 
periments and unfaltering perseverance. His first 
attempts at making porcelain for table use was a 


succession of disastrous failures, the labours of 
months being often destroyed in a day. It was 
only after a long series of trials, in the course of 
which he lost time, money, and labour, that he 
arrived at the proper sort of glaze to be used ; but 
he would not be denied, and at last he conquered 
success through patience. The improvement of 
pottery became his passion, and was never lost 
sight of for a moment. Even when he had mastered 
his difficulties, and become a prosperous man, 
manufacturing white stone ware and cream-coloured 
ware in large quantities,for home and foreign use, 
he went forward perfecting his manufactures, until, 
his example extending in all directions, the action 
of the entire district was stimulated, and a great 
branch of British industry was eventually estab- 
lished on firm foundations. He aimed throughout 
at the highest excellence, declaring his determina- 
tion " to give over manufacturing any article, what- 
soever it might be, rather than to degrade it." 

Wedgwood was cordially helped by many 
persons of rank and influence ; for, working in the 
truest spirit, he readily commanded the help and 
encouragement of other true workers. He made 
for Queen Charlotte the first royal table-service of 
English manufacture, of the kind afterwards called 
" Queen's-ware," and was appointed Royal Potter ; 
a title which he prized more than if he had been 
made a baron. Valuable sets of porcelain were 
entrusted to him for imitation, in which he suc- 
ceeded to admiration. Sir William Hamilton lent 
him specimens of ancient art from Herculaneum, of 
which he produced accurate and beautiful copies. 
The Duchess of Portland outbid him for the Bar- 
berini Vase when that article was offered for sale. 


He bid as high as seventeen hundred guineas for 
it : her grace secured it for eighteen hundred ; but 
when she learnt Wedgwood's object she at once 
generously lent him the vase to copy. He pro- 
duced fifty copies at a cost of about 25oo/., and his 
expenses were not covered by their sale ; but he 
gained his object, which was to show that whatever 
had been done, that English skill and energy could 
and would accomplish. 

Wedgwood called to his aid the crucible of the 
chemist, the knowledge of the antiquary, and the 
skill of the artist. He found out Flaxman when a 
youth, and while he liberally nurtured his genius 
drew from him a large number of beautiful designs 
for his pottery and porcelain ; converting them by 
his manufacture into objects of taste and excellence, 
and thus making them instrumental in the diffusion 
of classical art amongst the people. By careful 
experiment and study he was even enabled to 
rediscover the art of painting on porcelain or 
earthenware vases and similar articles an art 
practised by the ancient Etruscans, but which had 
been lost since the time of Pliny. He distinguished 
himself by his own contributions to science, and his 
name is still identified with the Pyrometer which 
he invented. He was an indefatigable supporter 
of all measures of public utility ; and the con- 
struction of the Trent and Mersey Canal, which 
completed the navigable communication between 
the eastern and western sides of the island, was 
mainly due to his public-spirited exertions, allied 
to the engineering skill of Brindley. The road 
accommodation of the district being of an execrable 
character, he planned and executed a turnpike-road 
through the Potteries, ten miles in length. The 


By Henry Howard, R.A. 

[To face p. 108 


reputation he achieved was such that his works at 
Burslem, and subsequently those at Etruria, which 
he founded and built, became a point of attraction 
to distinguished visitors from all parts of Europe. 

The result of Wedgwood's labours was, that the 
manufacture of pottery, which he found in the very 
lowest condition, became one of the staples of 
England ; and instead of importing what we needed 
for home use from abroad, we became large ex- 
porters to other countries, supplying them with 
earthenware even in the face of enormous pro- 
hibitory duties on articles of British produce. 
Wedgwood gave evidence as to his manufactures 
before Parliament in 1785, only some thirty years 
after he had begun his operations ; from which it 
appeared, that instead of providing only casual 
employment to a small number of inefficient and 
badly remunerated workmen, about 20,000 persons 
then derived their bread directly from the manu- 
facture of earthenware, without taking into account 
the increased numbers to which it gave employ- 
ment in coal-mines, and in the carrying trade by 
land and sea, and the stimulus which it gave to 
employment in many ways in various parts of the 
country. Yet, important as had been the advances 
made in his time, Mr. Wedgwood was of opinion 
that the manufacture was but in its infancy, and 
that the improvements which he had effected were 
of but small account compared with those to 
which the art was capable of attaining, through the 
continued industry and growing intelligence of 
the manufacturers, and the natural facilities and 
political advantages enjoyed by Great Britain; an 
opinion which has been fully borne out by the 
progress which has since been affected in this 


important branch of industry. In 1852 not fewer 
than 84,000,000 pieces of pottery were exported 
from England to other countries, besides what 
were made for home use. But it is not merely the 
quantity and value of the produce that is entitled 
to consideration, but the improvement of the con- 
dition of the population by whom this great branch 
of industry is conducted. When Wedgwood began 
his labours, the Staffordshire district was only in 
a half-civilized state. The people were poor, un- 
cultivated, and few in number. When Wedgwood's 
manufacture was firmly established, there was 
found ample employment at good wages for three 
times the number of population ; while their moral 
advancement had kept pace with their material 

Men such as these are fairly entitled to take 
rank as the Industrial Heroes of the civilized world. 
Their patient self-reliance amidst trials and diffi- 
culties, their courage and perseverance in the 
pursuit of worthy objects, are not less heroic of 
their kind than the bravery and devotion of the 
soldier and the sailor, whose duty and pride it is 
heroically to defend what these valiant leaders of 
industry have so heroically achieved. 


" Rich are the diligent, who can command 

Time, nature's stock ! and could his hour-glass fall, 
Would, as for seed of stars, stoop for the sand, 

And, by incessant labour, gather all." D 'Avenant. 

" Allez en avant, et la foi vous viendra. " D'AUmberi. 

THE greatest results in life are usually attained 
by simple means, and the exercise of ordi- 
nary qualities. The common life of every 
day, with its cares, necessities, and duties, affords 
ample opportunity for acquiring experience of the 
best kind ; and its most beaten paths provide 
the true worker with abundant scope for effort 
and room for self-improvement. The road of 
human welfare lies along the old highway of 
steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most 
persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will usually 
be the most successful. 

Fortune has often been blamed for her blind- 
ness ; but fortune is not so blind as men are. 
Those who look into practical life will find that 
fortune is usually on the side of the industrious, 
as the winds and waves are on the side of the 
best navigators. In the pursuit of even the highest 
branches of human inquiry, the commoner qualities 


are found the most useful such as common sense, 
attention, application, and perseverance. Genius 
may not be necessary, though even genius of the 
highest sort does not disdain the use of these 
ordinary qualities. The very greatest men have 
been among the least believers in the power of 
genius, and as worldly wise and persevering as 
successful men of the commoner sort. Some have 
even defined genius to be only common sense 
intensified. A distinguished teacher and president 
of a college spoke of it as the power of making- 
efforts. John Foster held it to be the power of 
lighting one's own fire. Buffon said of genius " it 
is patience." 

Newton's was unquestionably a mind of the 
very highest order, and yet, when asked by what 
means he had worked out his extraordinary dis- 
coveries, he modestly answered, " By always 
thinking unto them." At another time he thus 
expressed his method of study : " I keep the sub- 
ject continually before me, and wait till the first 
dawnings open slowly by little and little into a 
full and clear light." It was in Newton's case, as 
in every other, only by diligent application and 
perseverance that his great reputation was achieved. 
Even his recreation consisted in change of study, 
laying down one subject to take up another. To 
Dr. Bentley he said : " If 1 have done the public 
any service, it is due to nothing but industry 
and patient thought." So Kepler, another great 
philosopher, speaking of his studies and his pro- 
gress, said : " As in Virgil, ' Fama mobilitate viget, 
vires acquirit eundo,' so it was with me, that the 
diligent thought on these things was the occasion 
of still further thinking; until at last I brooded 


with the whole energy of my mind upon the 

The extraordinary results effected by dint of 
sheer industry and perseverance, have led many dis- 
tinguished men to doubt whether the gift of genius 
be so exceptional an endowment as it is usually 
supposed to be. Thus Voltaire held that it is only 
a very slight line of separation that divides the 
man of genius from the man of ordinary mould. 
Beccaria was even of opinion that all men might 
be poets and orators, and Reynolds that they might 
be painters and sculptors. If this were really so, 
that stolid Englishman might not have been so 
very far wrong after all, who, on Canova's death, 
inquired of his brother whether it was " his intention 
to carry on the business " ! Locke, Helvetius, and 
Diderot believed that all men have an equal aptitude 
for genius, and that what some are able to effect, 
under the laws which regulate the operations of 
the intellect, must also be within the reach of others 
who, under like circumstances, apply themselves 
to like pursuits. But while admitting to the fullest 
extent the wonderful achievements of labour, and 
recognizing the fact that men of the most distin- 
guished genius have invariably been found the 
most indefatigable workers, it must nevertheless 
be sufficiently obvious that, without the original 
endowment of heart and brain, no amount of labour, 
however well applied, could have produced a 
Shakespeare, a Newton, a Beethoven, or a Michael 

Dalton, the chemist, repudiated the notion of 
his being " a genius," attributing everything which 
he had accomplished to simple industry and 
accumulation. John Hunter said of himself, " My 



mind is like a beehive ; but full as it is of buzz 
and apparent confusion, it is yet full of order and 
regularity, and food collected with incessant industry 
from the choicest stores of nature." We have, 
indeed, but to glance at the biographies of great 
men to find that the most distinguished inventors, 
artists, thinkers, and workers of all kinds, owe 
their success, in a great measure, to their inde- 
fatigable industry and application. They were men 
who turned all things to gold even time itself. 
Disraeli the elder held that the secret of success 
consisted in being master of your subject, such 
mastery being attainable only through continuous 
application and study. Hence it happens that the 
men who have most moved the world, have not 
been so much men of genius, strictly so called, 
as men of intense mediocre abilities, and untiring 
perseverance ; not so often the gifted, of naturally 
bright and shining qualities, as those who have 
applied themselves diligently to their work, in 
whatsoever line that might lie. "Alas!" said a 
widow, speaking of her brilliant but careless son, 
" he has not the gift of continuance." Wanting in 
perseverance, such volatile natures are outstripped 
in the race of life by the diligent and even the dull. 
" Che va piano, va longano, e va lontano," says the 
Italian proverb : " Who goes slowly, goes long, and 
goes far." 

Hence, a great point to be aimed at is to get 
the working quality well trained. When that is 
done, the race will be found comparatively easy. 
We must repeat and again repeat ; facility will 
come with labour. Not even the simplest art can 
be accomplished without it ; and what difficulties it 
is found capable of achieving! It was by early 


discipline and repetition that the late Sir Robert 
Peel cultivated those remarkable, though still 
mediocre powers, which rendered him so illus- 
trious an ornament of the British Senate. When a 
boy at Drayton Manor, his father was accustomed 
to set him up at table to practise speaking ex- 
tempore ; and he early accustomed him to repeat 
as much of the Sunday's sermon as he could 
remember. Little progress was made at first, but 
by steady perseverance the habit of attention 
became powerful, and the sermon was at length 
repeated almost verbatim. When afterwards re- 
plying in succession to the arguments of his 
parliamentary opponents an art in which he was 
perhaps unrivalled it was little surmised that the 
extraordinary power of accurate remembrance 
which he displayed on such occasions had been 
originally trained under the discipline of his father 
in the parish church of Drayton. 

It is indeed marvellous what continuous appli- 
cation will effect in the commonest of things. It 
may seem a simple affair to play upon a violin ; yet 
what a long and laborious practice it requires ! 
Giardini said to a youth who asked him how long 
it would take to learn it, " Twelve hours a day for 
twenty years together." Industry, it is said, fait 
lours danser. The poor figurante must devote years 
of incessant toil to her profitless task before she 
can shine in it. When Taglioni was preparing 
herself for her evening exhibition, she would, after 
a severe two hours' lesson from her father, fall 
down exhausted, and had to be undressed, sponged, 
and resuscitated, totally unconscious. The agility 
and bounds of the evening were insured only at a 
price like this. 


Progress, however, of the best kind, is com- 
paratively slow. Great results cannot be achieved 
at once ; and we must be satisfied to advance in life 
as we walk, step by step. De Maistre says that 
" to know how to wait is the great secret of success." 
We must sow before we can reap, and often have 
to wait long, content meanwhile to look patiently 
forward in hope ; the fruit best worth waiting for 
often ripening the slowest. But " time and patience," 
says the Eastern proverb, "change the mulberry 
leaf to satin." 

To wait patiently, however, men must work 
cheerfully. Cheerfulness is an excellent working 
quality, imparting great elasticity to the character. 
As a bishop has said, "Temper is nine-tenths of 
Christianity ; " so are cheerfulness and diligence 
nine-tenths of practical wisdom. They are the life 
and soul of success, as well as of happiness ; 
perhaps the very highest pleasure in life consisting 
in clear, brisk, conscious working ; energy, con- 
fidence, and every other good quality mainly 
depending upon it. Sydney Smith, when labouring 
as a parish priest at Foston-le-Clay, in Yorkshire, 
though he did not feel himself to be in his proper 
element, went cheerfully to work in the firm 
determination to do his best. " I am resolved," he 
said, " to like it, and reconcile myself to it, which is 
more manly than to feign myself above it, and to 
send up complaints by the post of being thrown 
away, and being desolate, and such like trash." So 
Dr. Hook, when leaving Leeds for a new sphere 
of labour, said, "Wherever I may be, I shall, by 
God's blessing, do with my might what my hand 
findeth to do; and if I do not find work, I shall 
make it." 


Labourers for the public good especially, have to 
work long and patiently, often uncheered by the 
prospect of immediate recompense or result. The 
seeds they sow sometimes lie hidden under the 
winter's snow, and before the spring comes the hus- 
bandman may have gone to his rest. It is not every 
public worker who, like Rowland Hill, sees his great 
idea bring forth fruit in his life-time. Adam Smith 
sowed the seeds of a great social amelioration in 
that dingy old University of Glasgow where he 
so long laboured, and laid the foundations of his 
' Wealth of Nations ' ; but seventy years passed 
before his work bore substantial fruits, nor indeed 
are they all gathered in yet. 

Nothing can compensate for the loss of hope in 
a man : it entirely changes the character. " How 
can I work how can I be happy," said a great but 
miserable thinker, "when I have lost all hope?" 
One of the most cheerful and courageous, because 
one of the most hopeful of workers, was Carey, the 
missionary. When in India, it was no uncommon 
thing for him to weary out three pundits, who 
officiated as his clerks, in one day, he himself taking 
rest only in change of employment. Carey, the son 
of a shoemaker, was supported in his labours by 
Ward, the son of a carpenter, and Marsham, the son 
of a weaver. By their labours, a magnificent college 
was erected at Serampore ; sixteen flourishing 
stations were established ; the Bible was translated 
into sixteen languages, and the seeds were sown 
of a beneficent moral revolution in British India. 
Carey was never ashamed of the humbleness of his 
origin. On one occasion, when at the Governor- 
General's table he overheard an officer opposite 
him asking another, loud enough to be heard, 

ii8 DR. YOUNG [CHAP, iv 

whether Carey had not once been a shoemaker: 
" No, sir," exclaimed Carey immediately ; " only a 
cobbler." An eminently characteristic anecdote has 
been told of his perseverance as a boy. When 
climbing a tree one day, his foot slipped, and he fell 
to the ground, breaking his leg by the fall. He was 
confined to his bed for weeks, but when he re- 
covered and was able to walk without support, the 
very first thing he did was to go and climb that 
tree. Carey had need of this sort of dauntless 
courage for the great missionary work of his life, 
and nobly and resolutely he did it. 

It was a maxim of Dr. Young, the philosopher, 
that " Any man can do what any other man has 
done"; and it is unquestionable that he himself 
never recoiled from any trials to which he deter- 
mined to subject himself. It is related of him, that 
the first time he mounted a horse, he was in 
company with the grandson of Mr. Barclay of Ury, 
the well-known sportsman ; when the horseman 
who preceded them leapt a high fence. Young 
wished to imitate him, but fell off his horse in the 
attempt. Without saying a word, he remounted, 
made a second effort, and was again unsuccessful, 
but this time he was not thrown further than on to 
the horse's neck, to which he clung. At the third 
trial, he succeeded, and cleared the fence. 

The story of Timour the Tartar learning a 
lesson of perseverance under adversity from the 
spider is well known. Not less interesting is the 
anecdote of Audubon, the American ornithologist, 
as related by himself: "An accident," he says, 
"which happened to two hundred of my original 
drawings, nearly put a stop to my researches in 
ornithology. I shall relate it, merely to show how 

CHAP, iv] AUDUBON 119 

far enthusiasm for by no other name can I call my 
perseverance may enable the preserver of nature 
to surmount the most disheartening difficulties. I 
left the village of Henderson, in Kentucky, situated 
on the banks of the Ohio, where I resided for 
several years, to proceed to Philadelphia on busi- 
ness. I looked to my drawings before my de- 
parture, placed them carefully in a wooden box, 
and gave them in charge of a relative, with in- 
junctions to see that no injury should happen to 
them. My absence was of several months ; and 
when I returned, after having enjoyed the pleasures 
of home for a few days, I inquired after my box, 
and what I was pleased to call my treasure. The 
box was produced and opened ; but reader, feel for 
me a pair of Norway rats had taken possession of 
the whole, and reared a young family among the 
gnawed bits of paper, which, but a month previous, 
represented nearly a thousand inhabitants of air ! 
The burning heat which instantly rushed through 
my brain was too great to be endured without 
affecting my whole nervous system. I slept for 
several nights, and the days passed like days of 
oblivion until the animal powers being recalled 
into action through the strength of my constitution, 
I took up my gun, my notebook, and my pencils, 
and went forth to the woods as gaily as if nothing 
had happened. I felt pleased that I might now 
make better drawings than before ; and, ere a 
period not exceeding three years had elapsed, my 
portfolio was again filled." 

The accidental destruction of Sir Isaac Newton's 
papers, by his little dog ' Diamond ' upsetting a 
lighted taper upon his desk, by which the elaborate 
calculations of many years were in a moment 


destroyed, is a well-known anecdote, and need not 
be repeated : it is said that the loss caused the 
philosopher such profound grief that it seriously 
injured his health, and impaired his understanding. 
An accident of a somewhat similar kind happened 
to the MS. of Mr. Carlyle's first volume of his 
1 French Revolution.' He had lent the MS. to a 
literary neighbour to peruse. By some mischance, 
it had been left lying on the parlour floor, and 
become forgotten. Weeks ran on, and the historian 
sent for his work, the printers being loud for 
" copy." Inquiries were made, and it was found 
that the maid-of-all-work, finding what she con- 
ceived to be a bundle of waste paper on the floor, 
had used it to light the kitchen and parlour fires 
with ! Such was the answer returned to Mr. 
Carlyle ; and his feelings may be imagined. There 
was, however, no help for him but to set resolutely 
to work to re-write the book ; and he turned to 
and did it. He had no draft, and was compelled 
to rake up from his memory facts, ideas, and 
expressions, which had been long since dismissed. 
The composition of the book in the first instance 
had been a work of 'pleasure; the re-writing of it 
a second time was one of pain and anguish almost 
beyond belief. That he persevered and finished 
the volume under such circumstances, affords an 
instance of determination of purpose which has 
seldom been surpassed. 

The lives of eminent inventors are eminently 
illustrative ot the same quality of perseverance. 
George Stephenson, when addressing young men, 
was accustomed to sum up his best advice to them 
in the words, " Do as I have done persevere." 
He had worked at the improvement of his loco- 


motive for some fifteen years before achieving his 
decisive victory at Rainhill ; and Watt was engaged 
for some thirty years upon the condensing-engine 
before he brought it to perfection. But there are 
equally striking illustrations of perseverance to be 
found in every other branch of science, art, and 
industry. Perhaps one of the most interesting is 
that connected with the disentombment of the 
Nineveh marbles, and the discovery of the long-lost 
cuneiform or arrow-headed character in which the 
inscriptions on them are written a kind of writing 
which had been lost to the world since the period of 
the Macedonian conquest of Persia. 

An intelligent cadet of the East India Company, 
stationed at Kermanshah, in Persia, had observed 
the curious cuneiform inscriptions on the old 
monuments in the neighbourhood so old that all 
historical traces of them had been lost, and 
amongst the inscriptions which he copied was that 
on the celebrated rock of Behistun a perpendicu- 
lar rock rising abruptly some 1700 feet from the 
plain, the lower part bearing inscriptions for the 
space of about 300 feet in three languages 
Persian, Scythian, and Assyrian. Comparison of the 
known with the unknown, of the language which 
survived with the language that had been lost, 
enabled this cadet to acquire some knowledge of 
the cuneiform character, and even to form an alpha- 
bet. Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) Rawlinson sent 
his tracings home for examination. No professors 
in colleges as yet knew anything of the cuneiform 
character; but there was a ci-devant clerk of the 
East India House a modest unknown man of the 
name of Norris who had made this little-understood 
subject his study, to whom the tracings were 


submitted ; and so accurate was his knowledge, 
that, though he had never seen the Behistun rock, 
he pronounced that the cadet had not copied the 
puzzling inscription with proper exactness. Raw- 
linson, who was still in the neighbourhood of 
the rock, compared his copy with the original, and 
found that Norris was right ; and by further com- 
parison and careful study the knowledge of the 
cuneiform writing was thus greatly advanced. 

But to make the learning of these two self- 
taught men of avail, a third labourer was necessary 
in order to supply them with material for the exer- 
cise of their skill. Such a labourer presented him- 
self in the person of Austen Layard, originally an 
articled clerk in the office of a London solicitor. 
One would scarcely have expected to find in these 
three men, a cadet, an India House clerk, and a 
lawyer's clerk, the discoverers of a forgotten 
language, and of the buried history of Babylon ; 
yet it was so. Layard was a youth of only twenty- 
two, travelling in the East, when he was possessed 
with a desire to penetrate the regions beyond the 
Euphrates. Accompanied by a single companion, 
trusting to his arms for protection, and, what was 
better, to his cheerfulness, politeness, and chivalrous 
bearing, he passed safely amidst tribes at deadly 
war with each other ; and, after the lapse of many 
years, with comparatively slender means at his 
command, but aided by application and persever- 
ance, resolute will and purpose, and almost sublime 
patience borne up throughout by his passionate 
enthusiasm for discovery and research he suc- 
ceeded in laying bare and digging up an amount 
of historical treasures, the like of which has 
probably never before been collected by the in- 


dustry of any one man. Not less than two miles 
of bas-reliefs were thus brought to light by 
Mr. Layard. The selection of these valuable anti- 
quities, now placed in the British Museum, was 
found so curiously corroborative of the scriptural 
records of events which occurred some three 
thousand years ago, that they burst upon the world 
almost like a new revelation. And the story of the 
disentombment of these remarkable works, as told 
by Mr. Layard himself in his ' Monuments of 
Nineveh/ will always be regarded as one of the 
most charming and unaffected records which we 
possess of individual enterprise, industry, and 

The career of the Comte de Buffon presents 
another remarkable illustration of the power of 
patient industry, as well as of his own saying, 
that " Genius is patience." Notwithstanding the 
great results achieved by him in natural history, 
Buffon, when a youth, was regarded as of mediocre 
talents. His mind was slow in forming itself, and 
slow in reproducing what it had acquired. He was 
also constitutionally indolent ; and being born to 
good estate, it might be supposed that he would 
indulge his liking for ease and luxury. Instead of 
which, he early formed the resolution of denying 
himself pleasure, and devoting himself to study 
and self-culture. Regarding time as a treasure that 
was limited, and finding that he was losing many 
hours by lying a-bed in the morning, he determined 
to break himself of the habit. He struggled hard 
against it for some time, but failed in being able 
to rise at the hour he had fixed. He then called 
his servant, Joseph, to his help, and promised him 
the reward of a crown every time that he succeeded 

124 BUFFON [CHAP, iv 

in getting him up before six. At first, when called, 
Buffon declined to rise pleaded that he was ill, 
or pretended anger at being disturbed ; and on the 
Count at length getting up, Joseph found that he 
had earned nothing but reproaches for having 
permitted his master to lie a-bed contrary to his 
express orders. At length the valet determined 
to earn his crown ; and again and again he forced 
Buffon to rise, notwithstanding his entreaties, ex- 
postulations, and threats of immediate discharge from 
his service. One morning Buffon was unusually 
obstinate, and Joseph found it necessary to resort 
to the extreme measure of dashing a basin of ice- 
cold water under the bed-clothes, the effect of which 
was instantaneous. By the persistent use of such 
means, Buffon at length conquered his habit ; and 
he was accustomed to say that he owed to Joseph 
three or four volumes of his Natural History. 

For forty years of his life, Buffon worked every 
morning at his desk from nine till two, and again 
in the evening from five till nine. His diligence 
was so continuous and so regular that it became 
habitual. His biographer has said of him, " Work 
was his necessity ; his studies were the charm of 
his life ; and towards the last term of his glorious 
career he frequently said that he still hoped to 
be able to consecrate to them a few more years." 
He was a most conscientious worker, always study- 
ing to give the reader his best thoughts, expressed 
in the very best manner. He was never wearied 
with touching and retouching his compositions, so 
that his style may be pronounced almost perfect. 
He wrote the ' Epoques de la Nature ' not fewer 
than eleven times before he was satisfied with it ; 
although he had thought over the work about fifty 


years. He was a thorough man of business, most 
orderly in everything; and he was accustomed to 
say that genius without order lost three-fourths of 
its power. His great success as a writer was the 
result mainly of his painstaking labour and diligent 
application. " Buffon," observed Madame Necker, 
" strongly persuaded that genius is the result of a 
profound attention directed to a particular subject, 
said that he was thoroughly wearied out when 
composing his first writings, but compelled himself 
to return to them and go over them carefully again, 
even when he thought he had already brought 
them to a certain degree of perfection ; and that at 
length he found pleasure instead of weariness in 
this long and elaborate correction." It ought also 
to be added that Buffon wrote and published all 
his great works while afflicted by one of the most 
painful diseases to which the human frame is subject. 
Literary life affords abundant illustrations of the 
same power of perseverance ; and perhaps no career 
is more instructive, viewed in this light, than that 
of Sir Walter Scott. His admirable working 
qualities were trained in a lawyer's office, where 
he pursued for many years a sort of drudgery 
scarcely above that of a copying clerk. His daily 
dull routine made his evenings, which were his 
own, all the more sweet ; and he generally devoted 
them to reading and study. He himself attributed 
to his prosaic office discipline that habit of steady, 
sober diligence, in which mere literary men are so 
often found wanting. As a copying clerk he was 
allowed ^d. for every page containing a certain 
number of words ; and he sometimes, by extra 
work, was able to copy as many as 120 pages in 
twenty-four hours, thus earning some 305. ; out 


of which he would occasionally purchase an odd 
volume, otherwise beyond his means. 

During his after-life Scott was wont to pride 
himself upon being a man of business, and he 
averred, in contradiction to what he called the cant 
of sonneteers, that there was no necessary con- 
nexion between genius and an aversion or contempt 
for the common duties of life. On the contrary, he 
was of opinion that to spend some fair portion of 
every day in any matter-of-fact occupation was 
good for the higher faculties themselves in the up- 
shot. While afterwards acting as clerk to the 
Court of Session in Edinburgh, he performed his 
literary work chiefly before breakfast, attending 
the court during the day, where he authenticated 
registered deeds and writings of various kinds. 
On the whole, says Lockhart, " it forms one of 
the most remarkable features in his history, that 
throughout the most active period of his literary 
career, he must have devoted a large proportion 
of his hours, during half at least of every year, to 
the conscientious discharge of professional duties." 
It was a principle of action which he laid down 
for himself, that he must earn his living by busi- 
ness, and not by literature. On one occasion he 
said, " I determined that literature should be my 
staff, not my crutch, and that the profits of my 
literary labour, however convenient otherwise, 
should not, if I could help it, become necessary 
to my ordinary expenses." 

His punctuality was one ot the most carefully 
cultivated of his habits, otherwise it had not been 
possible for him to get through so enormous an 
amount of literary labour. He made it a rule to 
answer every letter received by him on the same 


day, except where inquiry and deliberation were 
requisite. Nothing else could have enabled him 
to keep abreast with the flood of communications 
that poured in upon him and sometimes put his 
good nature to the severest test. It was his practice 
to rise by five o'clock, and light his own fire. He 
shaved and dressed with deliberation, and was seated 
at his desk by six o'clock, with his papers arranged 
before him in the most accurate order, his works 
of reference marshalled round him on the floor, 
while at least one favourite dog lay watching his 
eye, outside the line of books. Thus by the time 
the family assembled for breakfast, between nine 
and ten, he had done enough to use his own words 
to break the neck of the day's work. But with 
all his diligent and indefatigable industry, and his 
immense knowledge, the result of many years' patient 
labour, Scott always spoke with the greatest diffi- 
dence of his own powers. On one occasion he 
said, " Throughout every part of my career I have 
felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance." 

Such is true wisdom and humility ; for the more 
a man really knows, the less conceited he will be. 
The student at Trinity College who went up to 
his professor to take leave of him because he had 
"finished his education," was wisely rebuked by 
the professor's reply, " Indeed ! I am only beginning 
mine." The superficial person who has obtained 
a smattering of many things, but knows nothing 
well, may pride himself upon his gifts ; but the 
sage humbly confesses that " all he knows is, that 
he knows nothing," or like Newton, that he has 
been only engaged in picking shells by the sea 
shore, while the great ocean of truth lies all unex- 
plored before him. 


The lives of second-rate literary men furnish 
equally remarkable illustrations of the powers of 
perseverance. The late John Britton, author of 
' The Beauties of England and Wales,' and of many 
valuable architectural works, was born in a miser- 
able cot in Kingston, Wiltshire. His father had 
been a baker and maltster, but was ruined in trade 
and became insane while Britton was yet a child. 
The boy received very little schooling, but a great 
deal of bad example, which happily did not corrupt 
him. He was early in life set to labour with an 
uncle, a tavern-keeper in Clerkenwell, under whom 
he bottled, corked, and binned wine for more than 
five years. His health failing him, his uncle turned 
him adrift in the world, with only two guineas, 
the fruits of his five years' service, in his pocket. 
During the next seven years of his life he endured 
many vicissitudes and hardships. Yet he says, 
in his autobiography, " in my poor and obscure 
lodgings, at eighteenpence a week, I indulged in 
study, and often read in bed during the winter 
evenings, because I could not afford a fire." Travel- 
ling on foot to Bath, he there obtained an engage- 
ment as a cellarman, but shortly after we find him 
back in the metropolis again almost penniless, 
shoeless, and shirtless. He succeeded, however, 
in obtaining employment as a cellarman at the 
London Tavern, where it was his duty to be in 
the cellar from seven in the morning until eleven 
at night. His health broke down under this con- 
finement in the dark, added to the heavy work; 
and he then engaged himself, at fifteen shillings 
a week, to an attorney, for he had been diligently 
cultivating the art of writing during the few spare 
minutes that he could call his own. While in this 

CHAP, iv] LOUDON 129 

employment, he devoted his leisure principally 
to perambulating the book-stalls, where he read 
books by snatches which he could not buy, and thus 
picked up a good deal of odd knowledge. Then 
he shifted to another office, at the advanced wages 
of twenty shillings a week, still reading and study- 
ing. At twenty-eight he was able to write a book, 
which he published under the title of 'The Enter- 
prising Adventures of Pizarro' ; and from that time 
until his death, during a period of about fifty-five 
years, Britton was occupied in laborious literary 
occupation. The number of his published works 
is not fewer than eighty-seven ; the most important 
being ' The Cathedral Antiquities of England/ in 
fourteen volumes, a truly magnificent work; itself 
the best monument of John Britton's indefatigable 

Loudon, the landscape gardener, was a man of 
somewhat similar character, possessed of an extra- 
ordinary working power. The son of a farmer 
near Edinburgh, he was early inured to work. His 
skill in drawing plans and making sketches of 
scenery induced his father to train him for a land- 
scape gardener. During his apprenticeship he sat 
up two whole nights every week to study ; yet he 
worked harder during the day than any labourer. 
In the course of his night studies he learnt French, 
and before he was eighteen he translated a life of 
Abelard for an Encyclopaedia. He was so eager to 
make progress in life, that when only twenty, while 
working as a gardener in England, he wrote down 
in his note-book, " I am now twenty years of age, 
and perhaps a third part of my life has passed 
away, and yet what have I done to benefit my 
fellow men ? " an unusual reflection for a youth of 



only twenty. From French he proceeded to learn 
German, and rapidly mastered that language. 
Having taken a large farm, for the purpose of 
introducing Scotch improvements in the art of 
agriculture, he shortly succeeded in realizing a 
considerable income. The continent being thrown 
open at the end of the war, he travelled abroad for 
the purpose of inquiring into the system of garden- 
ing and agriculture in other countries. He twice 
repeated his journeys, and the results were pub- 
lished in his Encyclopaedias, which are among the 
most remarkable works of their kind, distinguished 
for the immense mass of useful matter which they 
contain, collected by an amount of industry and 
labour which has rarely been equalled. 

The career of Samuel Drew is not less remark- 
able than any of those which we have cited. His 
father was a hard-working labourer of the parish 
of St. Austell, in Cornwall. Though poor, he con- 
trived to send his two sons to a penny-a-week 
school in the neighbourhood. Jabez, the elder, 
took delight in learning, and made great progress 
in his lessons; but Samuel, the younger, was a 
dunce, notoriously given to mischief and playing 
truant. When about eight years old he was put 
to manual labour, earning three-halfpence a day 
as a buddle-boy at a tin mine. At ten he was 
apprenticed to a shoemaker, and while in this 
employment he endured much hardship, living, 
as he used to say, "like a toad under a harrow." 
He often thought of running away and becoming 
a pirate, or something of the sort, and he seems 
to have grown in recklessness as he grew in years. 
In robbing orchards he was usually a leader ; and, 
as he grew older, he delighted to take part in any 


poaching or smuggling adventure. When about 
seventeen, before his apprenticeship was out, he 
ran away, intending to enter on board a man-of- 
war; but sleeping in a hay-field at night cooled 
him a little, and he returned to his trade. 

Drew next removed to the neighbourhood of 
Plymouth to work at his shoemaking business, 
and while at Cawsand he won a prize for cudgel- 
playing, in which he seems to have been an 
adept. While living there, he had nearly lost 
his life in a smuggling exploit which he had 
joined, partly induced by the love of adventure, 
and partly by the love of gain, for his regular 
wages were not more than eight shillings a week. 
One night, notice was given throughout Crafthole, 
that a smuggler was off the coast, ready to land 
her cargo ; on which the male population of the 
place nearly all smugglers made for the shore. 
One party remained on the rocks to make signals 
and dispose of the goods as they were landed; 
and another manned the boats, Drew being of 
the latter party. The night was intensely dark, 
and very little of the cargo had been landed, when 
the wind rose, with a heavy sea. The men in the 
boats, however, determined to persevere, and 
several trips were made between the smuggler, 
now standing farther out to sea, and the shore. 
One of the men in the boat in which Drew was, 
had his hat blown off by the wind, and in 
attempting to recover it, the boat was upset. 
Three of the men were immediately drowned ; 
the others clung to the boat for a time, but finding 
it drifting out to sea, they took to swimming. 
They were two miles from land, and the night 
was intensely dark. After being about three hours 


in the water, Drew reached a rock near the shore, 
with one or two others, where he remained be- 
numbed with cold till morning, when he and his 
companions were discovered and taken off, more 
dead than alive. A keg of brandy from the cargo 
just landed was brought, the head knocked in 
with a hatchet, and a bowlful of the liquid pre- 
sented to the survivors ; and, shortly after, Drew 
was able to walk two miles through deep snow, 
to his lodgings. 

This was a very unpromising beginning of a 
life ; and yet this same Drew, scapegrace, orchard- 
robber, shoemaker, cudgel-player, and smuggler, 
outlived the recklessness of his youth, and became 
distinguished as a minister of the Gospel and 
a writer of good books. Happily, before it was 
too late, the energy which characterized him was 
turned into a more healthy direction, and rendered 
him as eminent in usefulness as he had before 
been in wickedness. His father again took him 
back to St. Austell, and found employment for 
him as a journeyman shoemaker. Perhaps his 
recent escape from death had tended to make the 
young man serious, as we shortly find him attracted 
by the forcible preaching of Dr. Adam Clarke, a 
minister of the Wesleyan Methodists. His brother 
having died about the same time, the impression 
of seriousness was deepened ; and thenceforward 
he was an altered man. He began anew the work 
of education, for he had almost forgotten how 
to read and write; and even after several years' 
practice, a friend compared his writing to the 
traces of a spider dipped in ink set to crawl upon 
paper. Speaking of himself, about that time, Drew 
afterwards said, "The more I read, the more I 

CHAP, iv] STUDENT 133 

felt my own ignorance ; and the more I felt my 
ignorance, the more invincible became my energy 
to surmount it. Every leisure moment was now 
employed in reading one thing or another. Having 
to support myself by manual labour, my time 
for reading was but little, and to overcome this 
disadvantage, my usual method was to place a 
book before me while at meat, and at every repast 
I read five or six pages." The perusal of Locke's 
' Essay on the Understanding ' gave the first 
metaphysical turn to his mind. " It awakened 
me from my stupor," said he, "and induced me 
to form a resolution to abandon the grovelling 
views which I had been accustomed to entertain.' 

Drew began business on his own account, with a 
capital of a few shillings ; but his character for 
steadiness was such that a neighbouring miller 
offered him a loan, which was accepted, and, success 
attending his industry, the debt was repaid at the 
end of a year. He started with a determination to 
"owe no man anything," and he held to it in the' 
midst of many privations. Often he went to bed 
supperless, to avoid rising in debt. His ambition 
was to achieve independence by industry and 
economy, and in this he gradually succeeded. In 
the midst of incessant labour, he sedulously strove 
to improve his mind, studying astronomy, history, 
and metaphysics. He was induced to pursue the 
latter study chiefly because it required fewer books 
to consult than either of the others. " It appeared 
to be a thorny path," he said, " but I determined, 
nevertheless, to enter, and accordingly began to 
tread it." 

Added to his labours in shoemaking and 
metaphysics, Drew became a local preacher and a 


class leader. He took an eager interest in politics, 
and his shop became a favourite resort with the 
village politicians. And when they did not come 
to him, he went to them to talk over public affairs. 
This so encroached upon his time that he found 
it necessary sometimes to work until midnight to 
make up for the hours lost during the day. His 
political fervour became the talk of the village. 
While busy one night hammering away at a shoe- 
sole, a little boy, seeing a light in the shop, put his 
mouth to the keyhole of the door, and called out in 
a shrill pipe, " Shoemaker ! shoemaker ! work by 
night and run about by day ! " A friend, to whom 
Drew afterwards told the story, asked, " And did 
not you run after the boy, and strap him ?" " No, 
no," was the reply ; " had a pistol been fired off at 
my ear, I could not have been more dismayed or 
confounded. I dropped my work, and said to 
myself, ' True, true ! but you shall never have that 
to say of me again.' To me that cry was as the 
voice of God, and it has been a word in season 
throughout my life. I learnt from it not to leave till 
to-morrow the work of to-day, or to idle when I 
ought to be working." 

From that moment Drew dropped politics, and 
stuck to his work, reading and studying in his 
spare hours : but he never allowed the latter 
pursuit to interfere with his business, though it 
frequently broke in upon his rest. He married, and 
thought of emigrating to America ; but he remained 
working on. His literary taste first took the direc- 
tion of poetical composition ; and from some of the 
fragments which have been preserved, it appears 
that his speculations as to the immateriality and 
immortality of the soul had their origin in these 


poetical musings. His study was the kitchen, where 
his wife's bellows served him for a desk ; and he 
wrote amidst the cries and cradlings of his children. 
Paine's ' Age of Reason ' having appeared about 
this time and excited much interest, he composed 
a pamphlet in refutation of its arguments, which 
was published. He used afterwards to say that it 
was the 'Age of Reason' that made him an author. 
Various pamphlets from his pen shortly appeared 
in rapid succession, and a few years later, while 
still working at shoemaking, he wrote and published 
his admirable ' Essay on the Immateriality and 
Immortality of the Human Soul,' which he sold for 
twenty pounds, a great sum in his estimation at the 
time. The book went through many editions, and 
is still prized. 

Drew was in no wise puffed up by his success, 
as many young authors are, but, long after he had 
become celebrated as a writer, used to be seen 
sweeping the street before his door, or helping his 
apprentices to carry in the winter's coals. Nor 
could he, for some time, bring himself to regard 
literature as a profession to live by. His first care 
was to secure an honest livelihood by his business, 
and to put into the " lottery of literary success," as 
he termed it, only the surplus of his time. At 
length, however, he devoted himself wholly to 
literature, more particularly in connexion with 
the Wesleyan body ; editing one of their magazines, 
and superintending the publication of several of 
their denominational works. He also wrote in 
the ' Eclectic Review,' and compiled and published 
a valuable history of his native county, Cornwall, 
with numerous other works. Towards the close 
of his career, he said of himself, " Raised from 


one of the lowest stations in society, I have en- 
deavoured through life to bring my family into 
a state of respectability, by honest industry, 
frugality, and a high regard for my moral char- 
acter. Divine providence has smiled on my 
exertions, and crowned my wishes with success." 

The late Joseph Hume pursued a very different 
career, but worked in an equally persevering spirit. 
He was a man of moderate parts, but of great 
industry and unimpeachable honesty of purpose. 
The motto of his life was "Perseverance," and 
well he acted up to it. His father dying while 
he was a mere child, his mother opened a small 
shop in Montrose, and toiled hard to maintain 
her family and bring them up respectably. Joseph 
she put apprentice to a surgeon, and educated 
for the medical profession. Having got his 
diploma, he made several voyages to India as 
ship's surgeon,* and afterwards obtained a cadet- 
ship in the Company's service. None worked 
harder, or lived more temperately, than he did ; 
and, securing the confidence of his superiors, who 
found him a capable man in the performance of 

* It was characteristic of Mr. Hume, that, during his pro- 
fessional voyages between England and India, he should diligently 
apply his spare time to the study of navigation and seamanship ; 
and many years after, it proved of use to him in a remarkable 
manner. In 1825, when on his passage from London to Leith by 
a sailing smack, the vessel had scarcely cleared the mouth of the 
Thames when a sudden storm came on, she was driven out of 
her course, and, in the darkness of the night, she struck on the 
Goodwin Sands. The captain, losing his presence of mind, seemed 
incapable of giving coherent orders, and it is probable that the 
vessel would have become a total wreck, had not one of the 
passengers suddenly taken the command and directed the working 
of the ship, himself taking the helm while the danger lasted. The 
vessel was saved, and the stranger was Mr. Hume. 


his duty, they gradually promoted him to higher 
offices. In 1803 he was with the division of the 
army under General Powell, in the Mahratta war ; 
and the interpreter having died, Hume, who had 
meanwhile studied and mastered the native lan- 
guages, was appointed in his stead. He was next 
made chief of the medical staff. But as if this 
were not enough to occupy his full working 
power, he undertook in addition the offices of 
paymaster and postmaster, and filled them satis- 
factorily. He also contracted to supply the com- 
missariat, which he did with advantage to the 
army and profit to himself. After about ten years' 
unremitting labour, he returned to England with 
a competency ; and one of his first acts was to 
make provision for the poorer members of his 

But Joseph Hume was not a man to enjoy the 
fruits of his industry in idleness. Work and 
occupation had become necessary for his comfort 
and happiness. To make himself fully acquainted 
with the actual state of his own country, and the 
condition of the people, he visited every town in 
the kingdom which then enjoyed any degree of 
manufacturing celebrity. He afterwards travelled 
abroad for the purpose of obtaining a knowledge 
of foreign states. Returned to England, he entered 
Parliament in 1812, and continued a member of 
that assembly, with a short interruption, for a 
period of about thirty-four years. His first re- 
corded speech was on the subject of public 
education, and throughout his long and honourable 
career he took an active and earnest interest in 
that and all other questions calculated to elevate 
and improve the condition of the people criminal 


reform, savings-banks, free trade, economy and 
retrenchment, extended representation, and such 
like measures, all of which he indefatigably pro- 
moted. Whatever subject he undertook, he worked 
at with all his might. He was not a good speaker, 
but what he said was believed to proceed from 
the lips of an honest, single-minded, accurate man. 
If ridicule, as Shaftesbury says, be the test of truth, 
Joseph Hume stood the test well. No man was 
more laughed at, but there he stood perpetually, 
and literally, "at his post." He was usually beaten 
on a division, but the influence which he exercised 
was nevertheless felt, and many important financial 
improvements were effected by him even with 
the vote directly against him. The amount of hard 
work which he contrived to get through was some- 
thing extraordinary. He rose at six, wrote letters 
and arranged his papers for parliament ; then, after 
breakfast, he received persons on business, some- 
times as many as twenty in a morning. The House 
rarely assembled without him, and though the 
debate might be prolonged to two or three o'clock 
in the morning, his name was seldom found absent 
from the division. In short, to perform the work 
which he did, extending over so long a period, 
in the face of so many Administrations, week after 
week, year after year, to be outvoted, beaten, 
laughed at, standing on many occasions almost 
alone, to persevere in the face of every dis- 
couragement, preserving his temper unruffled, 
never relaxing in his energy or his hope, and living 
to see the greater number of his measures adopted 
with acclamation, must be regarded as one of the 
most remarkable illustrations of the power of 
human perseverance that biography can exhibit. 


" Neither the naked hand, nor the understanding, left to itself, can 
do much ; the work is accomplished, by instruments and helps, of which 
the need is not less for the understanding than the hand." Bacon. 

" Opportunity has hair in front, behind she is bald ; if you seize her 
by her forelock you may hold her, but, if suffered to escape, not Jupiter 
himself can catch her again." From the Latin. 

ACCIDENT does very little towards the pro- 
duction of any great result in life. Though 
sometimes what is called " a happy hit " may 
be made by a bold venture, the common highway of 
steady industry and application is the only safe road 
to travel. It is said of the landscape painter Wilson, 
that when he had nearly finished a picture in a 
tame, correct manner, he would step back from 
it, his pencil fixed at the end of a long stick, and 
after gazing earnestly on the work, he would 
suddenly walk up and by a few bold touches give 
a brilliant finish to the painting. But it will not 
do for every one who would produce an effect, 
to throw his brush at the canvas in the hope 
of producing a picture. The capability of putting 
in these last vital touches is acquired only by 
the labour of a life ; and the probability is, that 
the artist who has not carefully trained himself 



beforehand, in attempting to produce a brilliant 
effect at a dash, will only produce a blotch. 

Sedulous attention and painstaking industry 
always mark the true worker. The greatest men 
are not those who "despise the day of small 
things," but those who improve them the most 
carefully. Michael Angelo was one day explaining 
to a visitor at his studio, what he had been doing 
at a statue since his previous visit. " I have 
retouched this part polished that softened this 
feature brought out that muscle given some ex- 
pression to this lip, and more energy to that limb." 
" But these are trifles," remarked the visitor. " It 
may be so," replied the sculptor, "but recollect 
that trifles make perfection, and perfection is no 
trifle." So it was said of Nicholas Poussin, the 
painter, that the rule of his conduct was, that 
" whatever was worth doing at all was worth doing 
well"; and when asked, late in life, by his friend 
Vigneul de Marville, by what means he had gained 
so high a reputation among the painters of Italy, 
Poussin emphatically answered, " Because I have 
neglected nothing." 

Although there are discoveries which are said 
to have been made by accident, if carefully inquired 
into, it will be found that there has really been 
very little that was accidental about them. For 
the most part, these so-called accidents have only 
been opportunities, carefully improved by genius. 
The fall of the apple at Newton's feet has often 
been quoted in proof of the accidental character 
of some discoveries. But Newton's whole mind 
had already been devoted for years to the laborious 
and patient investigation of the subject of gravita- 
tion ; and the circumstance of the apple falling 


before his eyes was suddenly apprehended only 
as genius could apprehend it, and served to flash 
upon him the brilliant discovery then opening to 
his sight. In like manner, the brilliantly-coloured 
soap-bubbles blown from a common tobacco pipe 
though "trifles light as air" in most eyes 
suggested to Dr. Young his beautiful theory of 
"interferences," and led to his discovery relating 
to the diffraction of light. Although great men 
are popularly supposed only to deal with great 
things, men such as Newton and Young were 
ready to detect the significance of the most familiar 
and simple facts ; their greatness consisting mainly 
in their wise interpretation of them. 

The difference between men consists, in a great 
measure, in the intelligence of their observation. 
The Russian proverb says of the non-observant 
man, " He goes through the forest and sees no 
firewood." " The wise man's eyes are in his head," 
says Solomon, " but the fool walketh in darkness." 
"Sir," said Johnson, on one occasion, to a fine 
gentleman just returned from Italy, "some men 
will learn more in the Hampstead stage than others 
in the tour of Europe." It is the mind that sees 
as well as the eye. Where unthinking gazers 
observe nothing, men of intelligent vision penetrate 
into the very fibre of the phenomena presented to 
them, attentively noting differences, making com- 
parisons, and recognizing their underlying idea. 
Many before Galileo had seen a suspended weight 
swing before their eyes with a measured beat; 
but he was the first to detect the value of the 
fact. One of the vergers in the cathedral at Pisa, 
after replenishing with oil a lamp which hung 
from the roof, left it swinging to and fro; and 


Galileo, then a youth of only eighteen, noting it 
attentively, conceived the idea of applying it to 
the measurement of time. Fifty years of study 
and labour, however, elapsed before he completed 
the invention of his pendulum, the importance of 
which, in the measurement of time and in astro- 
nomical calculations, can scarcely be overrated. 
In like manner, Galileo, having casually heard 
that one Lippershey, a Dutch spectacle-maker, had 
presented to Count Maurice of Nassau an instru- 
ment by means of which distant objects appeared 
nearer to the beholder, addressed himself to the 
cause of such a phenomenon, which led to the 
invention of the telescope, and proved the beginning 
of the modern science of astronomy. Discoveries 
such as these could never have been made by a 
negligent observer, or by a mere passive listener. 

While Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown 
was occupied in studying the construction of 
bridges, with the view of contriving one of a cheap 
description to be thrown across the Tweed, near 
which he lived, he was walking in his garden one 
dewy autumn morning, when he saw a tiny spider's 
net suspended across his path. The idea im- 
mediately occurred to him, that a bridge of iron 
ropes or chains might be constructed in like 
manner, and the result was the invention of his 
suspension bridge. So James Watt, when con- 
sulted about the mode of carrying water by pipes 
under the Clyde, along the unequal bed of the 
river, turned his attention one day to the shell of a 
lobster presented at table ; and from that model 
he invented an iron tube, which, when laid down, 
was found effectually to answer the purpose. Sir 
Isambard Brunei took his first lessons in forming 


By James Norihcote, R.A. 

[To face p. 142. J 


the Thames Tunnel from the tiny shipworm : he 
saw how the little creature perforated the wood 
with its well-armed head, first in one direction and 
then in another, till the archway was complete, and 
then daubed over the roof and sides with a kind 
of varnish; and by copying this work exactly on 
a large scale, Brunei was at length enabled to 
construct his shield and accomplish his great 
engineering work. 

It is the intelligent eye of the careful observer 
which gives these apparently trivial phenomena 
their value. So trifling a matter as the sight of 
seaweed floating past his ship, enabled Columbus to 
quell the mutiny which arose amongst his sailors 
at not discovering land, and to assure them that the 
eagerly sought New World was not far off. There 
is nothing so small that it should remain forgotten ; 
and no fact, however trivial, but may prove useful 
in some way or other if carefully interpreted. Who 
could have imagined that the famous " chalk cliffs 
of Albion " had been built up by tiny insects 
detected only by the help of the microscope of 
the same order of creatures that have gemmed the 
sea with islands of coral ! And who that contem- 
plates such extraordinary results, arising from 
infinitely minute operations, will venture to question 
the power of little things ? 

It is the close observation of little things which 
is the secret of success in business, in art, in 
science, and in every pursuit in life. Human know- 
ledge is but an accumulation of small facts, made 
by successive generations of men, the little bits of 
knowledge and experience carefully treasured up 
by them growing at length into a mighty pyramid. 
Though many of these facts and observations 


seemed in the first instance to have but slight 
significance, they are all found to have their 
eventual uses, and to fit into their proper places. 
Even many speculations seemingly remote, turn 
out to be the basis of results the most obviously 
practical. In the case of the conic sections dis- 
covered by Apollonius Pergaeus, twenty centuries 
elapsed before they were made the basis of 
astronomy a science which enables the modern 
navigator to steer his way through unknown seas, 
and traces for him in the heavens an unerring path 
to his appointed haven. And had not mathema- 
ticians toiled for so long, and, to uninstructed ob- 
servers, apparently so fruitlessly, over the abstract 
relations of lines and surfaces, it is probable that 
but few of our mechanical inventions would have 
seen the light. 

When Franklin made his discovery of the 
identity of lightning and electricity, it was sneered 
at, and people asked, " Of what use is it ? " To 
which his reply was, " What is the use of a child ? 
It may become a man ! " When Galvani discovered 
that a frog's leg twitched when placed in contact 
with different metals, it could scarcely have been 
imagined that so apparently insignificant a fact 
could have led to important results. Yet therein 
lay the germ of the electric telegraph, which 
binds the intelligence of continents together, and, 
probably before many years have elapsed, will " put 
a girdle round the globe." So too, little bits of 
stone and fossil, dug out of the earth, intelligently 
interpreted, have issued in the science of geology 
and the practical operations of mining, in which 
large capitals are invested and vast numbers of 
persons profitably employed. 


The gigantic machinery employed in pumping 
our mines, working our mills and manufactures, 
and driving our steam-ships and locomotives, in 
like manner depends for its supply of power 
upon so slight an agency as little drops of water 
expanded by heat, that familiar agency called 
steam, which we see issuing from that common 
tea-kettle spout, but which, when put up within 
an ingeniously contrived mechanism, displays a 
force equal to that of millions of horses, and 
contains a power to rebuke the waves and set 
even the hurricane at defiance. The same power 
at work within the bowels of the earth has been 
the cause of those volcanoes and earthquakes which 
have played so mighty a part in the history of 
the globe. 

It is said that the Marquis of Worcester's 
attention was first accidentally directed to the 
subject of steam power by the tight cover of a 
vessel containing hot water having been blown 
off before his eyes, when confined a prisoner in 
the Tower. He published the result of his obser- 
vations in his ' Century of Inventions,' which 
formed a sort of text-book for inquirers into the 
powers of steam for a time, until Savary, New- 
comen, and others, applying it to practical purposes, 
brought the steam-engine to the state in which 
Watt found it when called upon to repair a model 
of Newcomen's engine, which belonged to the 
University of Glasgow. This accidental circum- 
stance was an opportunity for Watt, which he was 
not slow to improve ; and it was the labour of 
his life to bring the steam-engine to perfection. 

This art of seizing opportunities and turning 
even accidents to account, bending them to some 



purpose, is a great secret of success. Dr. Johnson 
has defined genius to be " a mind of large general 
powers accidentally determined in some particular 
direction." Men who are resolved to find a way 
for themselves will always find opportunities 
enough ; and if they do not lie ready to their 
hand, they will make them. It is not those who 
have enjoyed the advantages of colleges, museums, 
and public galleries that have accomplished the 
most for science and art ; nor have the greatest 
mechanics and inventors been trained in mechanics' 
institutes. Necessity, oftener than facility, has been 
the mother of invention ; and the most prolific 
school of all has been the school of difficulty. 
Some of the very best workmen have had the 
most indifferent tools to work with. But it is 
not tools that make the workman, but the trained 
skill and perseverance of the man himself. Indeed 
it is proverbial that the bad workman never yet 
had a good tool. Some one asked Opie by what 
wonderful process he mixed his colours. " I mix 
them with my brains, sir," was his reply. It is 
the same with every workman who would excel. 
Ferguson made marvellous things such as his 
wooden clock, that accurately measured the hours 
by means of a common penknife, a tool in 
everybody's hand ; but then everybody is not a 
Ferguson. A pan of water and two thermometers 
were the tools by which Dr. Black discovered 
latent heat; and a prism, a lens, and a sheet of 
pasteboard enabled Newton to unfold the com- 
position of light and the origin of colours. An 
eminent foreign savant once called upon Dr. 
Wollaston, and requested to be shown over his 
laboratories in which science had been enriched 


by so many important discoveries, when the doctor 
took him into a little study, and, pointing to an 
old tea-tray on the table, containing a few watch- 
glasses, test papers, a small balance, and a blow- 
pipe, said, " There is all the laboratory that I 
have ! " 

Stothard learnt the art of combining colours 
by closely studying butterflies' wings : he would 
often say that no one knew what he owed to these 
tiny insects. A burnt stick and a barn door served 
Wilkie in lieu of pencil and canvas. Bewick first 
practised drawing on the cottage walls of his 
native village, which he covered with his sketches 
in chalk ; and Benjamin West made his first 
brushes out of the cat's tail. Ferguson laid him- 
self down in the fields at night in a blanket, and 
made a map of the heavenly bodies by means of 
a thread with small beads on it stretched between 
his eye and the stars. Franklin first robbed the 
thundercloud of its lightning by means of a kite 
made with two cross sticks and a silk handker- 
chief. Watt made his first model of the con- 
densing steam-engine out of an old anatomist's 
syringe, used to inject the arteries previous to 
dissection. Gifford worked his first problems in 
mathematics, when a cobbler's apprentice, upon 
small scraps of leather, which he beat smooth for 
the purpose ; whilst Rittenhouse, the astronomer, 
first calculated eclipses on his plough handle. 

The most ordinary occasions will furnish a 
man with opportunities or suggestions for im- 
provement, if he be but prompt to take advantage 
of them. Professor Lee was attracted to the 
study of Hebrew by finding a Bible in that 
tongue in a synagogue, while working as a 


common carpenter at the repairs of the benches. 
He became possessed with a desire to read the 
book in the original, and, buying a cheap second- 
hand copy of a Hebrew grammar, he set to work 
and learnt the language for himself. As Edmund 
Stone said to the Duke of Argyle, in answer to 
his grace's inquiry how he, a poor gardener's boy, 
had contrived to be able to read Newton's Principia 
in Latin, "One needs only to know the twenty- 
four letters of the alphabet in order to learn 
everything else that one wishes." Application and 
perseverance, and the diligent improvement of 
opportunities, will do the rest. 

Sir Walter Scott found opportunities for self- 
improvement in every pursuit, and turned even 
accidents to account. Thus it was in the discharge 
of his functions as a writer's apprentice that he 
first visited the Highlands, and formed those 
friendships among the surviving heroes of 1745 
which served to lay the foundation of a large 
class of his works. Later in life, when employed 
as quartermaster of the Edinburgh Light Cavalry, 
he was accidentally disabled by the kick of a 
horse, and confined for some time to his house; 
but Scott was a sworn enemy to idleness, and 
he forthwith set his mind to work. In three 
days he had composed the first canto of ' The Lay 
of the Last Minstrel,' which he shortly after 
finished, his first great original work. 

The attention ol Dr. Priestley, the discoverer 
ot so many gases, was accidentally drawn to 
the subject of chemistry through his living in the 
neighbourhood of a brewery. When visiting the 
place one day, he noted the peculiar appearances 
attending the extinction of lighted chips in the 


gas floating over the fermented liquor. He was 
forty years old at the time, and knew nothing 
of chemistry. He consulted books to ascertain 
the cause, but they told him little, for as yet 
nothing was known on the subject. Then he 
began to experiment, with some rude apparatus 
of his own contrivance. The curious results of 
his first experiments led to others, which in his 
hands shortly became the science of pneumatic 
chemistry. About the same time Scheele was 
obscurely working in the same direction in a 
remote Swedish village ; and he discovered several 
new gases, with no more effective apparatus at 
his command than a few apothecaries' phials and 
pigs' bladders. 

Sir Humphry Davy, when an apothecary's 
apprentice, performed his first experiments with 
instruments of the rudest description. He ex- 
temporized the greater part of them himself, out 
of the motley materials which chance threw in 
his way, the pots and pans of the kitchen, and 
the phials and vessels of his master's surgery. 
It happened that a French ship was wrecked off 
the Land's End, and the surgeon escaped, bearing 
with him his case of instruments, amongst which 
was an old-fashioned glyster apparatus ; this article 
he presented to Davy, with whom he had become 
acquainted. The apothecary's apprentice received 
it with great exultation, and forthwith employed 
it as a part of a pneumatic apparatus which he 
contrived, afterwards using it to perform the duties 
of an air-pump in one of his experiments on the 
nature and scources of heat. 

In like manner Professor Faraday, Sir Humphry 
Davy's scientific successor, made his first experi- 


ments in electricity by means of an old bottle, while 
he was still a working bookbinder. And it is a 
curious fact that Faraday was first attracted to the 
study of chemistry by hearing one of Sir Humphry 
Davy's lectures on the subject at the Royal Insti- 
tution. A gentleman, who was a member, calling 
one day at the shop where Faraday was employed 
in binding books, found him poring over the article 
4 Electricity ' in an encyclopaedia placed in his 
hands to bind. The gentleman, having made in- 
quiries, found that the young bookbinder was 
curious about such subjects, and gave him an order 
of admission to the Royal Institution, where he 
attended a course of four lectures delivered by 
Sir Humphry. He took notes of them, which he 
showed to the lecturer, who acknowledged their 
scientific accuracy, and was surprised when informed 
of the humble position of the reporter. Faraday 
then expressed his desire to devote himself to the 
prosecution of chemical studies, from which Sir 
Humphry at first endeavoured to dissuade him : 
but the }^oung man persisting, he was at length 
taken into the Royal Institution as an assistant; 
and eventually the mantle of the brilliant apothecary's 
boy fell upon the worthy shoulders of the equally 
brilliant bookbinder's apprentice. 

The words which Davy entered in his note-book, 
when about twenty years of age, working in Dr. 
Beddoes' laboratory at Bristol, were eminently 
characteristic of him : " I have neither riches, nor 
power, nor birth to recommend me ; yet if I live, 
I trust I shall not be of less service to mankind 
and my friends, than if I had been born with all 
these advantages." Davy possessed the capability, 
as Faraday does, of devoting the whole power of 


his mind to the practical and experimental investi- 
gation of a subject in all its bearings ; and such a 
mind will rarely fail, by dint of mere industry and 
patient thinking, in producing results of the highest 
order. Coleridge said of Davy, " There is an energy 
and elasticity in his mind, which enables him to 
seize on and analyse all questions, pushing them to 
their legitimate consequences. Every subject in 
Davy's mind has the principle of vitality. Living 
thoughts spring up like turf under his feet." Davy, 
on his part, said of Coleridge, whose abilities he 
greatly admired, "With the most exalted genius, 
enlarged views, sensitive heart, and enlightened 
mind, he will be the victim of a want of order, 
precision, and regularity." 

The great Cuvier was a singularly accurate, 
careful, and industrious observer. When a boy, he 
was attracted to the subject of natural history by 
the sight of a volume of Buffon which accidentally 
fell in his way. He at once proceeded to copy 
the drawings, and to colour them after the des- 
criptions given in the text. While still at school, 
one of his teachers made him a present of Linnaeus's 
' System of Nature ' ; and for more than ten years 
this constituted his library of natural history. At 
eighteen he was offered the situation of tutor in 
a family residing near Fecamp, in Normandy. 
Living close to the sea-shore, he was brought face 
to face with the wonders of marine life. Strolling 
along the sands one day, he observed a stranded 
cuttle-fish. He was attracted by the curious object, 
took it home to dissect, and thus began the study 
of the molluscae, in the pursuit of which he achieved 
so distinguished a reputation. He had no books 
to refer to, excepting only the great book of Nature 


which lay open before him. The study of the 
novel and interesting objects which it daily presented 
to his eyes made a much deeper impression on his 
mind than any written or engraved description 
could possibly have done. Three years thus passed, 
during which he compared the living species of 
marine animals with the fossil remains found in 
the neighbourhood, dissected the specimens of 
marine life that came under his notice, and, by 
careful observation, prepared the way for a com- 
plete reform in the classification of the animal 
kingdom. About this time Cuvier became known 
to the learned Abbe Teissier, who wrote to Jussieu 
and other friends in Paris on the subject of the 
young naturalist's inquiries, in terms of such high 
commendation, that Cuvier was requested to send 
some of his papers to the Society of Natural 
History ; and he was shortly after appointed 
assistant-superintendent at the Jardin des Plantes. 
In the letter written by Teissier to Jussieu, 
introducing the young naturalist to his notice, he 
said, "You remember that it was I who gave 
Delambre to the Academy in another branch of 
science : this also will be a Delambre." We need 
scarcely add that the prediction of Teissier was 
more than fulfilled. 

It is not accident, then, that helps a man in the 
world so much as purpose and persistent industry. 
To the feeble, the sluggish and purposeless, the 
happiest accidents avail nothing, they pass them 
by, seeing no meaning in them. But it is astonish- 
ing how much can be accomplished if we are 
prompt to seize and improve the opportunities for 
action and effort which are constantly presenting 
themselves. Watt taught himself chemistry and 


mechanics while working at his trade of a mathe- 
matical-instrument maker, at the same time that 
he was learning German from a Swiss dyer. 
Stephenson taught himself arithmetic and mensura- 
tion while working as an engineman during the 
night shifts ; and when he could snatch a few 
moments in the intervals allowed for meals during 
the day, he worked his sums with a bit of chalk 
upon the sides of the colliery waggons. Dalton's 
industry was the habit of his life. He began from 
his boyhood, for he taught a little village-school 
when he was only about twelve years old, keeping 
the school in winter, and'working upon his father's 
farm in summer. He would sometimes urge him- 
self and companions to study by the stimulus of 
a bet, though bred a Quaker ; and on one occasion, 
by his satisfactory solution of a problem, he won 
as much as enabled him to buy a winter's store 
of candles. He continued his meteorological ob- 
servations until a day or two before he died, 
having made and recorded upwards of 200,000 in 
the course of his life. 

With perseverance, the very odds and ends of 
time may be worked up into results of the greatest 
value. An hour in every day withdrawn from 
frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, 
enable a person of ordinary capacity to go far 
towards mastering a science. It would make an 
ignorant man a well-informed one in less than 
ten years. Time should not be allowed to pass 
without yielding fruits, in the form of something 
learnt worthy of being known, some good principle 
cultivated, or some good habit strengthened. Dr. 
Mason Good translated Lucretius while riding in 
his carriage in the streets of London, going the 


round of his patients. Dr. Darwin composed 
nearly all his works in the same way while driving 
about in his "sulky" from house to house in the 
country, writing down his thoughts on little scraps 
of paper, which he carried about with him for 
the purpose. Hale wrote his ' Contemplations ' 
while travelling on circuit. Dr. Burney learnt 
French and Italian while travelling on horseback 
from one musical pupil to another in the course 
of his profession. Kirke White learnt Greek while 
walking to and from a lawyer's office; and we 
personally know a man of eminent position who 
learnt Latin and French while going messages 
as an errand-boy in the streets of Manchester. 

Daguesseau, one of the great Chancellors of 
France, by carefully working up his odd bits of 
time, wrote a bulky and able volume in the 
successive intervals of waiting for dinner, and 
Madame de Genlis composed several of her charm- 
ing volumes while waiting for the princess to 
whom she gave her daily lessons. Elihu Burritt 
attributed his first success in self-improvement, not 
to genius, which he disclaimed, but simply to the 
careful employment of those invaluable fragments 
of time called "odd moments." While working 
and earning his living as a blacksmith, he mastered 
some eighteen ancient and modern languages, and 
twenty-two European dialects. 

What a solemn and striking admonition to youth 
is that inscribed on the dial at All Souls, Oxford 
" Pereunt et imputantur " the hours perish, and 
are laid to our charge. Time is the only little 
fragment of Eternity that belongs to man ; and, 
like life, it can never be recalled. " In the dissipa- 
tion of worldly treasure," says Jackson of Exeter, 


"the frugality of the future may balance the ex- 
travagance of the past ; but who can say, ' I will 
take from minutes to-morrow to compensate for 
those I have lost to-day ' ? " Melancthon noted 
down the time lost by him, that he might thereby 
reanimate his industry, and not lose an hour. An 
Italian scholar put over his door an inscription 
intimating that whosoever remained there should 
join in his labours. " We are afraid," said some 
visitors to Baxter, " that we break in upon your 
time." " To be sure you do," replied the disturbed 
and blunt divine. Time was the estate out of which 
these great workers, and all other workers, formed 
that rich treasury of thoughts and deeds which they 
have left to their successors. 

The mere drudgery undergone by some men 
in carrying on their undertakings has been some- 
thing extraordinary, but the drudgery they regarded 
as the price of success. Addison amassed as much 
as three folios of manuscript materials before he 
began his ' Spectator.' Newton wrote his ' Chrono- 
logy ' fifteen times over before he was satisfied with 
it; and Gibbon wrote out his 'Memoir' nine times. 
Hale studied for many years at the rate of six- 
teen hours a day, and when wearied with the study 
of the law he would recreate himself with philo- 
sophy and the study of the mathematics. Hume 
wrote thirteen hours a day while preparing his 
1 History of England.' Montesquieu, speaking of 
one part of his writings, said to a friend, " You 
will read it in a few hours ; but I assure you it has 
cost me so much labour that it has whitened my 

The practice of writing down thoughts and facts 
for the purpose of holding them fast and preventing 


their escape into the dim region of forgetfulness, 
has been much resorted to by thoughtful and 
studious men. Lord Bacon left behind him many 
manuscripts entitled ' Sudden thoughts set down for 
use.' Erskine made great extracts from Burke ; 
and Eldon copied Coke upon Littleton twice over 
with his own hand, so that the book became, as it 
were, part of his own mind. The late Dr. Pye 
Smith, when apprenticed to his father as a book- 
binder, was accustomed to make copious memoranda 
of all the books he read, with extracts and criticisms. 
This indomitable industry in collecting materials 
distinguished him through life, his biographer de- 
scribing him as " always at work, always in advance, 
always accumulating." These note-books after- 
wards proved, like Richter's " quarries," the great 
storehouse from which he drew his illustrations. 

The same practice characterized the eminent 
John Hunter, who adopted it for the purpose of 
supplying the defects of memory ; and he was accus- 
tomed thus to illustrate the advantages which one 
derives from putting one's thoughts in writing : 
" It resembles," he said, " a tradesman taking stock, 
without which he never knows either what he 
possesses or in what he is deficient." John Hunter 
whose observation was so keen that Abernethy 
was accustomed to speak of him as " the Argus- 
eyed" furnished an illustrious example of the 
power of patient industry. He received little or 
no education till he was about twenty years of 
age, and it was with difficulty that he acquired 
the arts of reading and writing. He worked for 
some years as a common carpenter at Glasgow, 
after which he joined his brother William, who 
had settled in London as a lecturer and anatomical 


demonstrator. John entered his dissecting-room 
as an assistant, but soon shot ahead of his brother, 
partly by virtue of his great natural ability, but 
mainly by reason of his patient application and 
indefatigable industry. He was one of the first 
in this country to devote himself assiduously to 
the study of comparative anatomy, and the objects 
he dissected and collected took the eminent 
Professor Owen no less than ten years to arrange. 
The collection contains some twenty thousand 
specimens, and is the most precious treasure of 
the kind that has ever been accumulated by the 
industry of one man. Hunter used to spend every 
morning from sunrise until eight o'clock in his 
museum ; and throughout the day he carried on 
his extensive private practice, performed his 
laborious duties as surgeon to St. George's 
Hospital and deputy surgeon-general to the army, 
delivered lectures to students, and superintended 
a school of practical anatomy at his own house, 
finding leisure, amidst all, for elaborate experi- 
ments on the animal economy, and the composition 
of various works of great scientific importance. 
To find time for this gigantic amount of work, 
he allowed himself only four hours of sleep at 
night, and an hour after dinner. When once 
asked what method he had adopted to insure 
success in his undertakings, he replied, " My rule 
is, deliberately to consider, before I commence, 
whether the thing be practicable. If it be not 
practicable, I do not attempt it. If it be practicable, 
I can accomplish it if I give sufficient pains to 
it ; and having begun, I never stop till the thing 
is done. To this rule I owe all my success." 
Hunter occupied a great deal of his time in 


collecting definite facts respecting matters which, 
before his day, were regarded as exceedingly 
trivial. Thus it was supposed by many of his 
contemporaries that he was only wasting his time 
and thought in studying so carefully as he did 
the growth of a deer's horn. But Hunter was 
impressed with the conviction that no accurate 
knowledge of scientific facts is without its value. 
By the study referred to, he learnt how arteries 
accommodate themselves to circumstances, and 
enlarge as occasion requires ; and the knowledge 
thus acquired emboldened him, in a case of 
aneurism in a branch artery, to tie the main trunk 
where no surgeon before him had dared to tie it, 
and the life of his patient was saved. Like many 
original men, he worked for a long time as it were 
underground, digging and laying foundations. He 
was a solitary and self-reliant genius, holding on 
his course without the solace of sympathy or 
approbation, for but few of his contemporaries 
perceived the ultimate object of his pursuits. But, 
like all true workers, he did not fail in securing 
his best reward that which depends less upon 
others than upon one's self the approval of con- 
science, which in a right-minded man invariably 
follows the honest and energetic performance of 

Ambrose Pare, the great French surgeon, was 
another illustrious instance of close observation, 
patient application, and indefatigable perseverance. 
He was the son of a barber at Laval, in Maine, 
where he was born in 1509. His parents were 
too poor to send him to school, but they placed 
him as foot-boy with the cure of the village, 
hoping that under that learned man he might pick 


up an education for himself. But the cure kept 
him so busily employed in grooming his mule and 
in other menial offices that the boy found no time 
for learning. While in his service, it happened 
that the celebrated lithotomist, Cotot, came to 
Laval to operate on one of the cure's ecclesiastical 
brethren. Pare was present at the operation, and 
was so much interested by it that he is said to 
have from that time formed the determination of 
devoting himself to the art of surgery. 

Leaving the cure's household service, Pare 
apprenticed himself to a barber-surgeon named 
Vialot, under whom he learnt to let blood, draw 
teeth, and perform the minor operations. After 
four years' experience of this kind, he went to 
Paris to study at the school of anatomy and surgery, 
meanwhile maintaining himself by his trade of a 
barber. He afterwards succeeded in obtaining an 
appointment as assistant at the Hotel Dieu, where 
his conduct was so exemplary, and his progress 
so marked, that the chief surgeon, Goupil, entrusted 
him with the charge of the patients whom he could 
not himself attend to. After the usual course of 
instruction, Pare was admitted a master barber- 
surgeon, and shortly after was appointed to a charge 
with the French army under Montmorenci in Pied- 
mont. Pare was not a man to follow in the ordinary 
ruts of his profession, but brought the resources of 
an ardent and original mind to bear upon his daily 
work, diligently thinking out for himself the rationale 
of diseases and their befitting remedies. Before his 
time the wounded suffered much more at the hands 
of their surgeons than they did at those of their 
enemies. To stop bleeding from gunshot wounds, 
the barbarous expedient was resorted to of dressing 


them with boiling oil. Haemorrhage was also 
stopped by searing the wounds with a red-hot iron ; 
and when amputation was necessary, it was per- 
formed with a red-hot knife. At first Pare treated 
wounds according to the approved methods ; but, 
fortunately, on one occasion, running short of boiling- 
oil, he substituted a mild and emollient application. 
He was in great fear all night lest he should have 
done wrong in adopting this treatment ; but was 
greatly relieved next morning on finding his patients 
comparatively comfortable, while those whose wounds 
had been treated in the usual way were writhing 
in torment. Such was the casual origin of one of 
Fare's greatest improvements in the treatment of 
gunshot wounds ; and he proceeded to adopt the 
emollient treatment in all future cases. Another 
still more important improvement was his employ- 
ment of the ligature in tying arteries to stop 
haemorrhage, instead of the actual cautery. Pare, 
however, met with the usual fate of innovators and 
reformers. His practice was denounced by his 
surgical brethren as dangerous, unprofessional, and 
empirical ; and the older surgeons banded themselves 
together to resist its adoption. They reproached 
him for his want of education, more especially for 
his ignorance of Latin and Greek ; and they assailed 
him with quotations from ancient writers, which he 
was unable either to verify or refute. But the best 
answer to his assailants was the success of his 
practice. The wounded soldiers called out every- 
where for Pare, and he was always at their service : 
he tended them carefully and affectionately ; and he 
usually took leave of them with the words, " I have 
dressed you ; may God cure you." 

After three years' active service as army-surgeon, 


Par6 returned to Paris with such a reputation that 
he was at once appointed surgeon in ordinary to 
the King. When Metz was besieged by the Spanish 
army, under Charles V., the garrison suffered heavy 
loss, and the number of wounded was very great. 
The surgeons were few and incompetent, and 
probably slew more by their bad treatment than the 
Spaniards did by the sword. The Duke of Guise, 
who commanded the garrison, wrote to the King 
imploring him to send Pare to his help. The 
courageous surgeon at once set out, and, after 
braving many dangers (to use his own words, 
" d'estre pendu, estrangle ou mis en pieces "), he 
succeeded in passing the enemy's lines, and entered 
Metz in safety. The Duke, the generals, and the 
captains gave him an affectionate welcome ; while 
the soldiers, when they heard of his arrival, cried, 
" We no longer fear dying of our wounds ; our 
friend is among us." In the following year Pare 
was in like manner with the besieged in the town 
of Hesdin, which shortly fell before the Duke of 
Savoy, and he was taken prisoner. But having 
succeeded in curing one of the enemy's chief officers 
of a serious wound, he was discharged without 
ransom, and returned in safety to Paris. 

The rest of his life was occupied in study, in 
self-improvement, in piety, and in good deeds. 
Urged by some of the most learned among his 
contemporaries, he placed on record the results 
of his surgical experience in twenty-eight books, 
which were published by him at different times. 
His writings are valuable and remarkable chiefly 
on account of the great number of facts and cases 
contained in them, and the care with which he 
avoids giving any directions resting merely upon 



theory unsupported by observation. Par6 con- 
tinued, though a Protestant, to hold the office 
of surgeon in ordinary to the King; and during 
the massacre of St. Bartholomew he owed his life 
to the personal friendship of Charles IX., whom 
he had on one occasion saved from the dangerous 
effects of a wound inflicted by a clumsy surgeon 
in performing the operation of venesection. Bran- 
tOme, in his ' Memoires,' thus speaks of the King's 
rescue of Par on the night of Saint Bartholomew 
" He sent to fetch him, and to remain during 
the night in his chamber and wardrobe-room, 
commanding him not to stir, and saying that it 
was not reasonable that a man who had preserved 
the lives of so many people should himself be 
massacred." Thus Pare escaped the horrors of 
that fearful night, which he survived for many 
years, and was permitted to die in peace, full of 
age and honours. 

Harvey was as indefatigable a labourer as any 
we have named. He spent not less than eight 
long years of investigation and research before he 
published his views of the circulation of the blood. 
He repeated and verified his experiments again 
and again, probably anticipating the opposition 
he would have to encounter from the profession 
on making known his discovery. The tract in 
which he at length announced his views was a 
most modest one, but simple, perspicuous, and 
conclusive. It was nevertheless received with 
ridicule, as the utterance of a crack-brained im- 
postor. For some time he did not make a single 
convert, and gained nothing but contumely and 
abuse. He had called in question the revered 
authority of the ancients ; and it was even averred 

WILLIAM HARVEY, M.D., 1578-1657. 

[To face p. 162. 


that his views were calculated to subvert the 
authority of the Scriptures and undermine the very 
foundations of morality and religion. His little 
practice fell away, and he was left almost without 
a friend. This lasted for some years, until the 
great truth, held fast by Harvey amidst all his 
adversity, and which had dropped into many 
thoughtful minds, gradually ripened by further 
observation, and after a period of about twenty- 
five years, it became generally recognized as an 
established scientific truth. 

The difficulties encountered by Dr. Jenner in 
promulgating and establishing his discovery of 
vaccination as a preventive of small-pox were even 
greater than those of Harvey. Many, before him, 
had witnessed the cow-pox, and had heard of the 
report current among the milkmaids in Gloucester- 
shire, that whoever had taken that disease was 
secure against small-pox. It was a trifling, vulgar 
rumour, supposed to have no significance whatever ; 
and no one had thought it worthy of investigation, 
until it was accidentally brought under the notice 
of Jenner. He was a youth, pursuing his studies 
at Sodbury, when his attention was arrested by 
the casual observation made by a country girl 
who came to his master's shop for advice. The 
small-pox was mentioned, when the girl said, "I 
can't take that disease, for I have had cow-pox." 
The observation immediately riveted Jenner's 
attention, and he forthwith set about inquiring and 
making observations on the subject. His pro- 
fessional friends, to whom he mentioned his views 
as to the prophylactic virtues of cow-pox, laughed 
at him, and even threatened to expel him from their 
society, if he persisted in harassing them with the 


subject. In London he was so fortunate as to 
study under John Hunter, to whom he communi- 
cated his views. The advice of the anatomist was 
thoroughly characteristic : " Don't think, but try ; 
be patient, be accurate." Jenner's courage was 
supported by the advice, which conveyed to him 
the true art of philosophical investigation. He 
went back to the country to practise his profession 
and make observations and experiments, which he 
continued to pursue for a period of twenty years. 
His faith in his discovery was so implicit that he 
vaccinated his own son on three several occasions. 
At length he published his views in a quarto of 
about seventy pages, in which he gave the details 
of twenty-three cases of successful vaccination of 
individuals, to whom it was found afterwards 
impossible to communicate the small-pox either by 
contagion or inoculation. It was in 1798 that this 
treatise was published ; though he had been working 
out his ideas since the year 1775, when they had 
begun to assume a definite form. 

How was the discovery received ? First with 
indifference, then with active hostility. Jenner 
proceeded to London to exhibit to the profession 
the process of vaccination and its results ; but not 
a single medical man could be induced to make 
trial of it, and after fruitlessly waiting for nearly 
three months, he returned to his native village. 
He was even caricatured and abused for his attempt 
to "bestialize" his species by the introduction 
into their systems of diseased matter from the 
cow's udder. Vaccination was denounced from 
the pulpit as "diabolical." It was averred that 
vaccinated children became " ox-faced," that 
abscesses broke out to " indicate sprouting horns," 


and that the countenance was gradually "trans- 
muted into the visage of a cow, the voice into the 
bellowing of bulls." Vaccination, however, was 
a truth, and notwithstanding the violence of 
the opposition, belief in it spread slowly. In one 
village, where a gentleman tried to introduce the 
practice, the first persons who permitted them- 
selves to be vaccinated were absolutely pelted and 
driven into their houses if they appeared out of 
doors. Two ladies of title Lady Ducie and the 
Countess of Berkeley to their honour be it 
remembered had the courage to vaccinate their 
children ; and the prejudices of the day were at 
once broken through. The medical profession 
gradually came round, and there were several who 
even sought to rob Dr. Jenner of the merit of 
the discovery, when its importance came to be 
recognized. Jenner's cause at last triumphed, and 
he was publicly honoured and rewarded. In his 
prosperity he was as modest as he had been in 
his obscurity. He was invited to settle in London, 
and told that he might command a practice of 
io,ooo/. a year. But his answer was, " No ! In the 
morning of my days I have sought the sequestered 
and lowly paths of life the valley, and not the 
mountain, and now, in the evening of my days, 
it is not meet for me to hold myself up as an object 
for fortune and for fame." During Jenner's own 
lifetime the practice of vaccination became adopted 
all over the civilized world ; and when he died, 
his title as a benefactor of his kind was recognized 
far and wide. Cuvier has said, " If vaccine were 
the only discovery of the epoch, it would serve 
to render it illustrious for ever ; yet it knocked 
twenty times in vain at the doors of the Academies." 


Not less patient, resolute, and persevering was Sir 
Charles Bell in the prosecution of his discoveries 
relating to the nervous system. Previous to his 
time, the most confused notions prevailed as to 
the functions of the nerves, and this branch of 
study was little more advanced than it had been 
in the times of Democritus and Anaxagoras three 
thousand years before. Sir Charles Bell, in the 
valuable series of papers the publication of which 
was commenced in 1821, took an entirely original 
view of the subject, based upon a long series 
of careful, accurate, and oft-repeated experiments. 
Elaborately tracing the development of the nervous 
system up from the lowest order of animated being, 
to man the lord of the animal kingdom, he dis- 
played it, to use his own words, " as plainly as 
if it were written in our mother-tongue." His 
discovery consisted in the fact, that the spinal 
nerves are double in their function, and arise by 
double roots from the spinal marrow, volition 
being conveyed by that part of the nerves spring- 
ing from the one root, and sensation by the other. 
The subject occupied the mind of Sir Charles Bell 
for a period of forty years, when, in 1840, he laid 
his last paper before the Royal Society. As in 
the cases of Harvey and Jenner, when he had lived 
down the ridicule and opposition with which his 
views were first received, and their truth came 
to be recognized, numerous claims for priority 
in making the discovery were set up at home and 
abroad. Like them, too, he lost practice by the 
publication of his papers ; and he left it on record 
that, after every step in his discovery, he was 
obliged to work harder than ever to preserve his 
reputation as a practitioner. The great merits of 


Sir Charles Bell were, however, at length fully 
recognized ; and Cuvier himself, when on his 
death-bed, finding his face distorted and drawn 
to one side, pointed out the symptom to his 
attendants as a proof of the correctness of Sir 
Charles Bell's theory. 

AJI equally devoted pursuer of the same branch 
of science was the late Dr. Marshall Hall, whose 
name posterity will rank with those of Harvey, 
Hunter, Jenner, and Bell. During the whole 
course of his long and useful life he was a most 
careful and minute observer ; and no fact, how- 
ever apparently insignificant, escaped his attention. 
His important discovery of the diastaltic nervous 
system, by which his name will long be known 
amongst scientific men, originated in an exceed- 
ingly simple circumstance. When investigating 
the pneumonic circulation in the triton, the de- 
capitated object lay upon the table; and on 
separating the tail and accidentally pricking the 
external integument, he observed that it moved 
with energy, and became contorted into various 
forms. He had not touched a muscle or a muscular 
nerve ; what then was the nature of these move- 
ments ? The same phenomena had probably been 
often observed before, but Dr. Hall was the first 
to apply himself perseveringly to the investigation 
of their causes ; and he exclaimed on the occasion, 
" I will never rest satisfied until I have found 
all this out, and made it clear." His attention 
to the subject was almost incessant; and it is 
estimated that in the course of his life he devoted 
not less than 25,000 hours to its experimental and 
chemical investigation. He was at the same time 
carrying on an extensive private practice, and 


officiating as lecturer at St. Thomas's Hospital and 
other medical schools. It will scarcely be credited 
that the paper in which he embodied his discovery 
was rejected by the Royal Society, and was only 
accepted after the lapse of seventeen years, when 
the truth of his views had become acknowledged 
by scientific men both at home and abroad. 

The life of Sir William Herschel affords another 
remarkable illustration of the force of perseverance 
in another branch of science. His father was a 
poor German musician, who brought up his four 
sons to the same calling. William came over to 
England to seek his fortune, and he joined the 
band of the Durham Militia, in which he played 
the oboe. The regiment was lying at Doncaster, 
where Dr. Miller first became acquainted with 
Herschel, having heard him perform a solo on the 
violin in a surprising manner. The doctor entered 
into conversation with the youth, and was so 
pleased with him, that he urged him to leave the 
militia and take up his residence at his house for 
a time. Herschel did so, and while at Doncaster 
was principally occupied in violin-playing at 
concerts, availing himself of the advantages of Dr. 
Miller's library to study in his leisure hours. A 
new organ having been built for the parish church 
of Halifax, an organist was advertised for, on which 
Herschel applied for the office, and was selected. 
Leading the wandering life of an artist, he was 
next attracted to Bath, where he played in the 
Pump-room band, and also officiated as organist in 
the Octagon chapel. Some recent discoveries in 
astronomy having arrested his mind, and awakened 
in him a powerful spirit of curiosity, he sought 
and obtained from a friend the loan of a two-foot 


Gregorian telescope. So fascinated was the poor 
musician by the science, that he even thought of 
purchasing a telescope, but the price asked by the 
London optician was so alarming, that he determined 
to make one. Those who know what a reflecting 
telescope is, and the skill which is required to 
prepare the concave metallic speculum which forms 
the most important part of the apparatus, will be 
able to form some idea of the difficulty of this 
undertaking. Nevertheless, Herschel succeeded, 
after long and painful labour, in completing a five- 
foot reflector, with which he had the gratification 
of observing the ring and satellites of Saturn. 
Not satisfied with his triumph, he proceeded to 
make other instruments in succession, of seven, 
ten, and even twenty feet. In constructing the 
seven-foot reflector, he finished no fewer than two 
hundred specula before he produced one that 
would bear any power that was applied to it, 
a striking instance of the persevering laboriousness 
of the man. While gauging the heavens with his 
instruments, he continued patiently to earn his 
bread by piping to the fashionable frequenters of 
the Pump-room. So eager was he in his astro- 
nomical observations, that he would steal away 
from the room during an interval of the performance, 
give a little turn at his telescope, and contentedly 
return to his oboe. Thus working away, Herschel 
discovered the Georgium Sidus, the orbit and rate 
of motion of which he carefully calculated, and 
sent the result to the Royal Society; when the 
humble oboe player found himself at once elevated 
from obscurity to fame. He was shortly after 
appointed Astronomer Royal, and by the kindness 
of George III. was placed in a position of honourable 


competency for life. He bore his honours with 
the same meekness and humility which had dis- 
tinguished him in the days of his obscurity. So 
gentle and patient, and withal so distinguished 
and successful a follower of science under diffi- 
culties, perhaps cannot be found in the entire 
history of biography. 

The career of William Smith, the father of 
English geology, though perhaps less known, is not 
less interesting and instructive as an example of 
patient and laborious effort, and the diligent 
cultivation of opportunities. He was born in 1769, 
the son of a yeoman farmer at Churchill, in Oxford- 
shire. His father dying when he was but a child, 
he received a very sparing education at the village 
school, and even that was to a considerable extent 
interfered with by his wandering and somewhat 
idle habits as a boy. His mother having married 
a second time, he was taken in charge by an uncle, 
also a farmer, by whom he was brought up. 
Though the uncle was by no means pleased with 
the boy's love of wandering about, collecting 
" poundstones," " pundips," and other stony curiosi- 
ties which lay scattered about the adjoining land, 
he yet enabled him to purchase a few of the neces- 
sary books wherewith to instruct himself in the 
rudiments of geometry and surveying; for the 
boy was already destined for the business of a 
land-surveyor. One of his marked characteristics, 
even as a youth, was the accuracy and keenness 
of his observation ; and what he once clearly saw 
he never forgot. He began to draw, attempted to 
colour, and practised the arts of mensuration and 
surveying, all without regular instruction ; and by 
his efforts in self-culture, he shortly became so 


proficient that he was taken on as assistant to a 
local surveyor of ability in the neighbourhood. 
In carrying on his business he was constantly 
under the necessity of traversing Oxfordshire and 
the adjoining counties. One of the first things 
he seriously pondered over was the position of 
the various soils and strata that came under his 
notice on the lands which he surveyed or travelled 
over; more especially the position of the red earth 
in regard to the lias and superincumbent rocks. 
The surveys of numerous collieries which he 
was called upon to make gave him further ex- 
perience ; and already, when only twenty-three 
years of age, he contemplated making a model of 
the strata of the earth. 

While engaged in levelling for a proposed canal 
in Gloucestershire, the idea of a general law occurred 
to him relating to the strata of that district. He 
conceived that the strata lying above the coal were 
not laid horizontally, but inclined, and in one 
direction, towards the east ; resembling, on a large 
scale, " the ordinary appearance of superposed slices 
of bread and butter." The correctness of this theory 
he shortly after confirmed by observations of the 
strata in two parallel valleys, the " red ground," 
"lias," and "freestone" or "oolite," being found to 
come down in an eastern direction, and to sink 
below the level, yielding place to the next in 
succession. He was shortly enabled to verify the 
truth of his views on a larger scale, having been 
appointed to examine personally into the manage- 
ment of canals in England and Wales. During his 
journeys, which extended from Bath to Newcastle- 
on-Tyne, returning by Shropshire and Wales, his 
keen eyes were never idle for a moment. He 


rapidly noted the aspect and structure of the country 
through which he passed with his companions, 
treasuring up his observations for future use. His 
geologic vision was so acute, that, though the road 
along which he passed from York to Newcastle in 
the post chaise was from five to fifteen miles distant 
from the hills of chalk and oolite on the east, 
he was satisfied as to their nature, by their contours 
and relative position, and their ranges on the 
surface in relation to the lias and " red ground " 
occasionally seen on the road. 

The general results of his observation seem to 
have been these. He noted that the rocky masses 
of country in the western parts of England generally 
inclined to the east and south-east ; that the red 
sandstones and marls above the coal measures 
passed beneath the lias, clay, and limestone; that 
these again passed beneath the sands, yellow 
limestones and clays, forming the table-land of 
the Cotswold Hills, while these in turn passed 
beneath the great chalk deposits occupying the 
eastern parts of England. He further observed, 
that each layer of clay, sand, and limestone held 
its own peculiar classes of fossils ; and pondering 
much on these things, he at length came to the 
then unheard-of conclusion, that each distinct de- 
posit of marine animals, in these several strata, 
indicated a distinct sea-bottom, and that each layer 
of clay, sand, chalk, and stone marked a distinct 
epoch of time in the history of the earth. 

This idea took firm possession of his mind, and 
he could talk and think of nothing else. At canal 
boards, at sheep-shearings, at county meetings, and 
at agricultural associations, ' Strata Smith,' as he 
came to be called, was always running over with 


the subject that possessed him. He had indeed 
made a great discovery, though he was as yet 
a man utterly unknown in the scientific world. He 
proceeded to project a map of the stratification 
of England ; but was for some time deterred from 
proceeding with it, being fully occupied in carrying 
out the works of the Somersetshire coal canal, 
which engaged him for a period of about six years. 
He continued, nevertheless, to be unremitting in his 
observation of facts ; and he became so expert in 
apprehending the internal structure of a district and 
detecting the lie of the strata from its external con- 
figuration, that he was often consulted respecting 
the drainage of extensive tracts of land, in which, 
guided by his geological knowledge, he proved 
remarkably successful, and acquired an extensive 

One day, when looking over the cabinet collec- 
tion of fossils belonging to the Rev. Samuel 
Richardson, at Bath, Smith astonished his friend by 
suddenly disarranging his classification, and re- 
arranging the fossils in their stratigraphical order, 
saying " These came from the blue lias, these from 
the over-lying sand and freestone, these from the 
fuller's earth, and these from the Bath building- 
stone." A new light flashed upon Mr. Richardson's 
mind, and he shortly became a convert to and 
believer in William Smith's doctrine. The geologists 
of the day were not, however, so easily convinced ; 
and it was scarcely to be tolerated that an unknown 
land-surveyor should pretend to teach them the 
science of geology. But William Smith had an 
eye and mind to penetrate deep beneath the skin of 
the earth ; he saw its very fibre and skeleton, and, 
as it were, divined its organization. His knowledge 


of the strata in the neighbourhood of Bath was so 
accurate, that one evening, when dining at the 
house of the Rev. Joseph Townsend, he dictated to 
Mr. Richardson the different strata according to 
their order of succession in descending order, 
twenty-three in number, commencing with the 
chalk and descending in continuous series down 
to the coal, below which the strata were not then 
sufficiently determined. To this was added a list 
of the more remarkable fossils which had been 
gathered in the several layers of rock. This was 
printed and extensively circulated in 1801. 

He next determined to trace out the strata 
through districts as remote from Bath as his means 
would enable him to reach. For years he journeyed 
to and fro, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horse- 
back, riding on the tops of stage coaches, often 
making up by night-travelling the time he had lost 
by day, so as not to fail in his ordinary business 
engagements. When he was professionally called 
away to any distance from home as, for instance, 
when travelling from Bath to Holkham, in Norfolk, 
to direct the irrigation and drainage of Mr. Coke's 
land in that county he rode on horseback, making 
frequent detours from the road to note the geo- 
logical features of the country which he traversed. 

For several years he was thus engaged in his 
journeys to distant quarters in England and Ireland, 
to the extent of upwards of ten thousand miles 
yearly; and it was amidst this incessant and 
laborious travelling that he contrived to commit 
to paper his fast-growing generalizations on what 
he rightly regarded as a new science. No ob- 
servation, howsoever trivial it might appear, was 
neglected, and no opportunity of collecting fresh 


facts was overlooked. Whenever he could, he 
possessed himself of records of borings, natural and 
artificial sections, drew them to a constant scale 
of eight yards to the inch, and coloured them up. 
Of his keenness of observation take the following 
illustration. When making one of his geological 
excursions about the country near Woburn, as he 
was drawing near to the foot of the Dunstable 
chalk hills, he observed to his companion, " If there 
be any broken ground about the foot of these hills, 
we may find sharks' teeth " ; and they had not pro- 
ceeded far before they picked up six from the white 
bank of a new fence-ditch. As he afterwards said 
of himself, " The habit of observation crept on me, 
gained a settlement in my mind, became a constant 
associate of my life, and started up in activity at 
the first thought of a journey ; so that I generally 
went off well prepared with maps, and sometimes 
with contemplations on its objects, or on those on 
the road, reduced to writing before it commenced. 
My mind was, therefore, like the canvas of a painter, 
well prepared for the first and best impressions." 
Notwithstanding his courageous and indefatig- 
able industry, many circumstances contributed to 
prevent the promised publication of William Smith's 
' Map of the Strata of England and Wales,' and it 
was not until 1814 that he was enabled, by the 
assistance of some friends, to give to the world the 
fruits of his twenty years' incessant labour. To 
prosecute his inquiries, and collect the extensive 
series of facts and observations requisite for his 
purpose, he had to expend the whole of the profits 
of his professional labours during that period ; 
and he even sold off his small property to provide 
the means of visiting remoter parts of the island. 


Meanwhile he had entered on a quarrying specula- 
tion near Bath, which proved unsuccessful, and 
he was under the necessity of selling his geological 
collection (which was purchased by the British 
Museum), his furniture and library, reserving only 
his papers, maps, and sections, which were useless 
save to himself. He bore his losses and misfortunes 
with exemplary fortitude ; and, amidst all, he went 
on working with cheerful courage and untiring 
patience. He died at Northampton, in August, 
1839, while on his way to attend the meeting of 
the British Association at Birmingham. 

It is difficult to speak in terms of too high praise 
of the first geological map of England, which we 
owe to the industry of this courageous man of 
science. An accomplished writer says of it, " It 
was a work so masterly in conception, and so 
correct in general outline, that in principle it served 
as a basis not only for the production of later maps 
of the British Islands, but for geological maps of 
all other parts of the world, wherever they have 
been undertaken. In the apartments of the 
Geological Society Smith's map may yet be seen 
a great historical document, old and worn, calling 
for the renewal of its faded tints. Let any one 
conversant with the subject compare it with later 
works on a similar scale, and he will find that in 
all essential features it will not suffer by the 
comparison the intricate anatomy of the Silurian 
rocks of Wales and the North of England by 
Murchison and Sedgwick being the chief additions 
made to his great generalizations." * The genius 
of the Oxfordshire surveyor did not fail to be duly 
recognized and honoured by men of science during 
* 'Saturday Review,' July 3rd, 1858. 


his lifetime. In 1831 the Geological Society of 
London awarded him the Wollaston medal, "in 
consideration of his being a great original dis- 
coverer in English geology, and especially for his 
being the first in this country to discover and to 
teach the identification of strata, and to determine 
their succession by means of their imbedded 
fossils." William Smith, in his simple, earnest 
way, gained for himself a name as lasting as the 
science he loved so well. To use the words of the 
writer above quoted, "Till the manner as well 
as the fact of the first appearance of successive 
forms of life shall be solved, it is not easy to 
surmise how any discovery can be made in geology 
equal in value to that which we owe to the genius 
of William Smith." 

Hugh Miller was a man of like observant 
faculties, who studied literature as well as science 
with zeal and success. The book in which he has 
told the story of his life, ' My Schools and School- 
masters,' is extremely interesting, and calculated 
to be eminently useful. It is the history of the 
formation of a truly noble character in the humblest 
condition of life, and inculcates most powerfully 
the lessons of self-help, self-respect, and self- 
dependence. While Hugh was but a child, his 
father, who was a sailor, was drowned at sea, and 
he was brought up by his widowed mother. He 
had a school training after a sort, but his best 
teachers were the boys with whom he played, 
the men amongst whom he worked, the friends 
and relatives with whom he lived. He read much 
and miscellaneously, and picked up odd sorts of 
knowledge from many quarters, from workmen, 
carpenters, fishermen and sailors, and, above all, 



from the old boulders strewed along the shores 
of the Cromarty Frith. With a big hammer which 
had belonged to his great-grandfather, an old 
buccaneer, the boy went about chipping the stones, 
and accumulating specimens of mica, porphyry, 
garnet, and such like. Sometimes he had a day 
in the woods, and there, too, the boy's attention 
was excited by the peculiar geological curiosities 
which came in his way. While searching among 
the rocks on the beach, he was sometimes asked, 
in irony, by the farm servants who came to load 
their carts with sea-weed, whether he "was gettin' 
siller in the stanes/' but was so unlucky as never 
to be able to answer in the affirmative. When of 
a suitable age he was apprenticed to the trade 
of his choice that of a working stonemason ; and 
he began his labouring career in a quarry looking 
out upon the Cromarty Frith. This quarry proved 
one of his best schools. The remarkable geologi- 
cal formations which it displayed awakened his 
curiosity. The bar of deep-red stone beneath, and 
the bar of pale-red clay above, were noted by the 
young quarryman, who even in such unpromising 
subjects found matter for observation and reflec- 
tion. Where other men saw nothing, he detected 
analogies, differences, and peculiarities, which set 
him a-thinking. He simply kept his eyes and his 
mind open ; was sober, diligent, and persevering ; 
and this was the secret of his intellectual growth. 

His curiosity was excited and kept alive by the 
curious organic remains, principally of old and 
extinct species of fishes, ferns, and ammonites, 
which were revealed along the coast by the wash- 
ings of the waves, or were exposed by the stroke 
of his mason's hammer. He never lost sight of 


the subject ; but went on accumulating observa- 
tions and comparing formations, until at length, 
many years afterwards, when no longer a working 
mason, he gave to the world his highly interesting 
work on the Old Red Sandstone, which at once 
established his reputation as a scientific geologist. 
But this work was the fruit of long years of patient 
observation and research. As he modestly states 
in his autobiography, " The only merit to which 
I lay claim in the case is that of patient research 
a merit in which whoever wills may rival or 
surpass me ; and this humble faculty of patience, 
when rightly developed, may lead to more ex- 
traordinary developments of idea than even genius 

The late John Brown, the eminent English 
geologist, was, like Miller, a stonemason in his 
early life, serving an apprenticeship to the trade 
at Colchester, and afterwards working as a journey- 
man mason at Norwich. He began business as 
a builder on his own account at Colchester, where 
by frugality and industry he secured a competency. 
It was while working at his trade that his attention 
was first drawn to the study of fossils and shells ; 
and he proceeded to make a collection of them, 
which afterwards grew into one of the finest in 
England. His researches along the coasts of 
Essex, Kent, and Sussex brought to light some 
magnificent remains of the elephant and rhinoceros, 
the most valuable of which were presented by him 
to the British Museum. During the last few years 
of his life he devoted considerable attention to 
the study of the Foraminifera in chalk, respecting 
which he made several interesting discoveries. 
His life was useful, happy, and honoured; and 


he died at Stanway, in Essex, in November 1859, 
at the ripe age of eighty years. 

Not long ago Sir Roderick Murchison discovered 
at Thurso, in the far North of Scotland, a profound 
geologist, in the person of a baker there, named 
Robert Dick. When Sir Roderick called upon 
him at the bakehouse in which he baked and 
earned his bread, Robert Dick delineated to him, 
by means of flour upon the board, the geographical 
features and geological phenomena of his native 
county, pointing out the imperfections in the 
existing maps, which he had ascertained by travel- 
ling over the country in his leisure hours. On 
further inquiry, Sir Roderick ascertained that the 
humble individual before him was not only a capital 
baker and geologist, but a first-rate botanist. " I 
found," said the President of the Geographical 
Society, "to my great humiliation that the baker 
knew infinitely more of botanical science, ay, ten 
times more, than I did, and that there were only 
some twenty or thirty specimens of flowers which 
he had not collected. Some he had obtained as 
presents, some he had purchased, but the greater 
portion had been accumulated by his industry, in 
his native county of Caithness ; and the specimens 
were all arranged in the most beautiful order, with 
their scientific names affixed." 

Sir Roderick Murchison himself is an illustrious 
follower of these and kindred branches of science. 
A writer in the 4 Quarterly Review ' cites him as a 
"singular instance of a man who, having passed 
the early part of his life as a soldier, never having 
had the advantage, or disadvantage as the case 
might have been, of a scientific training, instead of 
remaining a fox-hunting country gentleman, has 


succeeded by his own native vigour and sagacity, 
untiring industry and zeal, in making for himself a 
scientific reputation that is as wide as it is likely to 
be lasting. He took first of all an unexplored and 
difficult district at home, and, by the labour of many 
years, examined its rock-formations, classed them 
in natural groups, assigned to each its characteristic 
assemblage of fossils, and was the first to decipher 
two great chapters in the world's geological history, 
which must always henceforth carry his name on 
their title-page. Not only so, but he applied the 
knowledge thus acquired to the dissection of large 
districts, both at home and abroad, so as to become 
the geological discoverer of great countries which 
had formerly been 'terrae incognitae.'" But Sir 
Roderick Murchison is not merely a geologist. His 
indefatigable labours in many branches of know- 
ledge have contributed to render him among the 
most accomplished and complete of scientific men. 


" If what shone afar so grand, 
Turn to nothing in thy hand, 
On again ; the virtue lies 
In the struggle, not the prize." K, M. Milnes. 

" Excelle, et tu vivras." Joubcrt, 

EXCELLENCE in art, as in everything else, 
can only be achieved by dint of painstaking 
labour. There is nothing less accidental 
than the painting of a fine picture or the chiselling 
of a noble statue. Every skilled touch of the artist's 
brush or chisel, though guided by genius, is the 
product of unremitting study. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds was such a believer in the 
force of industry, that he held that artistic excel- 
lence, "however expressed by genius, taste, or the 
gift of heaven, may be acquired." Writing to Barry 
he said, " Whoever is resolved to excel in painting, 
or indeed any other art, must bring all his mind to 
bear upon that one object from the moment that he 
rises till he goes to bed." And on another occasion 
he said, " Those who are resolved to excel must go 
to their work, willing or unwilling, morning, noon, 
and night : they will find it no play, but very hard 
labour." But although diligent application is no 



doubt absolutely necessary for the achievement of 
the highest distinction in art, it is equally true 
that without the inborn genius no amount of mere 
industry, however well applied, will make an artist. 
The gift comes by nature, but it is perfected by 
self-culture, which is of more avail than all the 
imparted education of the schools. 

Some of the greatest artists have had to force 
their way upward in the face of poverty and mani- 
fold obstructions. Illustrious instances will at once 
flash upon the reader's mind. Claude Lorraine, 
the pastrycook ; Tintoretto, the dyer ; the two Cara- 
vaggios, the one a colour-grinder, the other a 
mortar-carrier at the Vatican ; Salvator Rosa, the 
associate of bandits ; Giotto, the peasant boy ; 
Zingaro, the gipsy ; Cavedone, turned out of doors 
to beg by his father ; Canova, the stone-cutter ; 
these, and many other well-known artists, succeeded 
in achieving distinction by severe study and labour, 
under circumstances the most adverse. 

Nor have the most distinguished artists of our 
own country been born in a position of life more 
than ordinarily favourable to the culture of artistic 
genius. Gainsborough and Bacon were the sons 
of cloth-workers ; Barry was an Irish sailor boy, 
and Maclise a banker's apprentice at Cork ; Opie 
and Romney, like Inigo Jones, were carpenters ; 
West was the son of a small Quaker farmer in 
Pennsylvania ; Northcote was a watchmaker, Jack- 
son a tailor, and Etty a printer ; Reynolds, Wilson, 
and Wilkie were the sons of clergymen ; Lawrence 
was the son of a publican, and Turner of a barber. 
Several of our painters, it is true, originally had 
some connexion with art, though in a very humble 
way, such as Flaxman, whose father sold plaster 


casts; Bird, who ornamented tea-trays; Martin, 
who was a coach-painter ; Wright and Gilpin, who 
were ship-painters; Chantrey, who was a carver 
and gilder; and David Cox, Stanfield, and Roberts, 
who were scene-painters. 

It was not by luck or accident that these men 
achieved distinction, but by sheer industry and 
hard work. Though some achieved wealth, yet this 
was rarely, if ever, the ruling motive. Indeed, no 
mere love of money could sustain the efforts of 
the artist in his early career of self-denial and 
-X application. The pleasure of the pursuit has always 
been its best reward ; the wealth which followed 
but an accident. Many noble-minded artists have 
preferred following the bent of their genius to 
chaffering with the public for terms. Spagnoletto 
verified in his life the beautiful fiction of Xenophon, 
and after he had acquired the means of luxury, pre- 
ferred withdrawing himself from their influence, and 
voluntarily returned to poverty and labour. When 
Michael Angelo was asked his opinion respecting 
a work which a painter had taken great pains to 
exhibit for profit, he said, " I think that he will 
be a poor fellow so long as he shows such an 
extreme eagerness to become rich." 

Like Sir Joshua Reynolds, Michael Angelo was a 
great believer in the force of labour; and he held 
that there was nothing which the imagination con- 
ceived, that could not be embodied in marble, if 
the hand were made vigorously to obey the mind. 
He was himself one of the most indefatigable of 
workers ; and he attributed his power of studying 
for a greater number of hours than most of his con- 
temporaries to his spare habits of living. A little 
bread and wine was all he required for the chief 


part of the day when employed at his work ; and 
very frequently he rose in the middle of the night 
to resume his labours. On these occasions, it was 
his practice to fix the candle, by the light of which 
he chiselled, on the summit of a paste-board cap 
which he wore. Sometimes he was too wearied to 
undress, and he slept in his clothes, ready to spring 
to his work so soon as refreshed by sleep. He had 
a favourite device of an old man in a go-cart, with 
an hour-glass upon it bearing the inscription, 
Ancora imparo ! Still I am learning. 

Titian, also, was an indefatigable worker. His 
celebrated ' Pietro Martire' was eight years in 
hand, and his 'Last Supper' seven. In his letter 
to Charles V. he said, " I send your Majesty the 
'Last Supper' after working at it almost daily 
for seven years dopo sette anni lavorandovi quasi 
continnamente" Few think of the patient labour 
and long training involved in the greatest works 
of the artist. They seem easy and quickly 
accomplished, yet with how great difficulty has 
this ease been acquired. " You charge me fifty 
sequins," said the Venetian nobleman to the 
sculptor, " for a bust that cost you only ten days' 
labour." "You forget," said the artist, "that I 
have been thirty years learning to make that bust 
in ten days." Once when Domenichino was blamed 
for his slowness in finishing a picture which was be- 
spoken, he made answer, " I am continually painting 
it within myself." It was eminently characteristic 
of the industry of the late Sir Augustus Callcott, 
that he made not fewer than forty separate sketches 
in the composition of his famous picture of ' Ro- 
chester.' This constant repetition is one of the 
main conditions of success in art, as in life itself. 


No matter how generous nature has been in 
bestowing the gift of genius, the pursuit of art is 
nevertheless a long and continuous labour. Many 
artists have been precocious, but without diligence 
their precocity would have come to nothing. The 
anecdote related of West is well known. When 
only seven years old, struck with the beauty of 
the sleeping infant of his eldest sister whilst 
watching by its cradle, he ran to seek some paper 
and forthwith drew its portrait in red and black 
ink. The little incident revealed the artist in him, 
and it was found impossible to draw him from his 
bent. West might have been a greater painter, 
had he not been injured by too early success : his 
fame, though great, was not purchased by study, 
trials, and difficulties, and it has not been enduring. 

Richard Wilson, when a mere child, indulged 
himself with tracing figures of men and animals 
on the walls of his father's house, with a burnt 
stick. He first directed his attention to portrait 
painting; but when in Italy, calling one day at 
the house of Zucarelli, and growing weary with 
waiting, he began painting the scene on which 
his friend's chamber window looked. When 
Zucarelli arrived, he was so charmed with the 
picture, that he asked if Wilson had not studied 
landscape, to which he replied that he had not. 
" Then, I advise you," said the other, " to try ; for 
you are sure of great success." Wilson adopted 
the advice, studied and worked hard, and became 
our first great English landscape painter. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds, when a boy, forgot his 
lessons, and took pleasure only in drawing, for 
which his father was accustomed to rebuke him. 
The boy was destined for the profession of physic, 

CHAP, vi] HOGARTH 187 

but his strong instinct for art could not be repressed, 
and he became a painter. Gainsborough went 
sketching, when a schoolboy, in the woods of 
Sudbury ; and at twelve he was a confirmed artist : 
he was a keen observer and a hard worker, no 
picturesque feature of any scene he had once looked 
upon escaping his diligent pencil. William Blake, 
a hosier's son, employed himself in drawing designs 
on the backs of his father's shop-bills, and making 
sketches on the counter. Edward Bird, when a 
child only three or four years old, would mount 
a chair and draw figures on the walls, which he 
called French and English soldiers. A box of 
colours was purchased for him, and his father, 
desirous of turning his love of art to account, put 
him apprentice to a maker of tea-trays! Out of 
this trade he gradually raised himself, by study 
and labour, to the rank of a Royal Academician. 

Hogarth, though a very dull boy at his lessons, 
took pleasure in making drawings of the letters 
of the alphabet, and his school exercises were more 
remarkable for the ornaments with which he 
embellished them than for the matter of the 
exercises themselves. In the latter respect he was 
beaten by all the blockheads of the school, but in 
his adornments he stood alone. His father put him 
apprentice to a silversmith, where he learnt to 
draw, and also to engrave spoons and forks with 
crests and ciphers. From silver-chasing, he went 
on to teach himself engraving on copper, principally 
griffins and monsters of heraldry, in the course 
of which practice he became ambitious to delineate 
the varieties of human character. The singular 
excellence which he reached in this art was mainly 
the result of careful observation and study. He 

1 88 HOGARTH [HAP. vi 

had the gift, which he sedulously cultivated, of 
committing to memory the precise features of any 
remarkable face, and afterwards reproducing them 
on paper; but if any singularly fantastic form or 
outre face came in his way, he would make a sketch 
of it on the spot, upon his thumb-nail, and carry 
it home to expand at his leisure. Everything 
fantastical and original had a powerful attraction 
for him, and he wandered into many out-of-the-way 
places for the purpose of meeting with character. 
By this careful storing of his mind, he was after- 
wards enabled to crowd an immense amount of 
thought and treasured observation into his works. 
Hence it is that Hogarth's pictures are so truthful 
a memorial of the character, the manners, and even 
the very thoughts of the times in which he lived. 
True painting, he himself observed, can only be 
learnt in one school, and that is kept by Nature. 
But he was not a highly cultivated man, except in 
his own walk. His school education had been of 
the slenderest kind, scarcely even perfecting him 
in the art of spelling; his self-culture did the rest. 
For a long time he was in very straitened circum- 
stances, but nevertheless worked on with a cheer- 
ful heart. Poor though he was, he contrived to 
live within his small means, and he boasted, with 
becoming pride, that he was " a punctual pay- 
master." When he had conquered all his difficulties 
and become a famous and thriving man, he loved to 
dwell upon his early labours and privations, and 
to fight over again the battle which ended so 
honourably to him as a man and so gloriously 
as an artist. " I remember the time," said he on 
one occasion, "when I have gone moping into the 
city with scarce a shilling, but as soon as I have 


received ten guineas there for a plate, I have re- 
turned home, put on my sword, and sallied out 
with all the confidence of a man who had thousands 
in his pockets." 

" Industry and perseverance " was the motto 
of the sculptor Banks, which he acted on himself, 
and strongly recommended to others. His well- 
known kindness induced many aspiring youths to 
call upon him and ask for his advice and assistance ; 
and it is related that one day a boy called at his 
door to see him with this object, but the servant, 
angry at the loud knock he had given, scolded him, 
and was about sending him away, when Banks, 
overhearing her, himself went out. The little boy 
stood at the door with some drawings in his hand. 
" What do you want with me ? " asked the sculptor. 
" I want, sir, if you please, to be admitted to draw 
at the Academy." Banks explained that he himself 
could not procure his admission, but he asked to 
look at the boy's drawings. Examining them, he 
said, "Time enough for the Academy, my little 
man ! go home mind your schooling try to make 
a better drawing of the Apollo and in a month 
come again and let me see it." The boy went 
home sketched and worked with redoubled dili- 
gence and, at the end of the month, called again 
on the sculptor. The drawing was better; but 
again Banks sent him back, with good advice, to 
work and study. In a week the boy was again 
at his door, his drawing much improved; and 
Banks bid him be of good cheer, for if spared he 
would distinguish himself. The boy was Mulready ; 
and the sculptor's augury was amply fulfilled. 

The fame of Claude Lorraine is partly explained 
by his indefatigable industry. Born at Champagne, 


in Lorraine, of poor parents, he was first appren- 
ticed to a pastry-cook. His brother, who was a 
wood-carver, afterwards took him into his shop to 
learn that trade. Having there shown indications 
of artistic skill, a travelling dealer persuaded the 
brother to allow Claude to accompany him to Italy. 
He assented, and the young man reached Rome, 
where he was shortly after engaged by Agostino 
Tassi, the landscape painter, as his house-servant. 
In that capacity Claude first learnt landscape paint- 
ing, and in course of time he began to produce 
pictures. We next find him making the tour of 
Italy, France, and Germany, occasionally resting 
by the way to paint landscapes, and thereby re- 
plenish his purse. On returning to Rome he found 
an increasing demand for his works, and his repu- 
tation at length became European. He was un- 
wearied in the study of nature in her various 
aspects. It was his practice to spend a great part 
of his time in closely copying buildings, bits of 
ground, trees, leaves, and such like, which he 
finished in detail, keeping the drawings by him 
in store for the purpose of introducing them in his 
studied landscapes. He also gave close attention 
to the sky, watching it for whole days from morning 
till night, and noting the various changes occa- 
sioned by the passing clouds and the increasing 
and waning light. By this constant practice he 
acquired, although it is said very slowly, such a 
mastery of hand and eye as eventually secured for 
him the first rank among landscape painters. 

Turner, who has been styled " the English 
Claude," pursued a career of like laborious industry. 
He was destined by his father for his own trade of 
a barber, which he carried on in London, until one 

CHAP, vi] TURNER 191 

day the sketch which the boy had made of a coat of 
arms on a silver salver having attracted the notice 
of a customer whom his father was shaving, the 
latter was urged to allow his son to follow his bias, 
and he was eventually permitted to follow art as a 
profession. Like all young artists, Turner had 
many difficulties to encounter, and they were all 
the greater that his circumstances were so strait- 
ened. But he was always willing to work, and to 
take pains with his work, no matter how humble 
it might be. He was glad to hire himself out at 
half-a-crown a night to wash in skies in Indian 
ink upon other people's drawings, getting his supper 
into the bargain. Thus he earned money and ac- 
quired expertness. Then he took to illustrating 
guide-books, almanacs, and any sort of books that 
wanted cheap frontispieces. " What could I have 
done better?" said he afterwards; "it was first-rate 
practice." He did everything carefully and con- 
scientiously, never slurring over his work because 
he was ill-remunerated for it. He aimed at learning 
as well as living ; always doing his best, and never 
leaving a drawing without having made a step 
in advance upon his previous work. A man who 
thus laboured was sure to do much; and his 
growth in power and grasp of thought was, to use 
Ruskin's words, " as steady as the increasing light 
of sunrise." But Turner's genius needs no pane- 
gyric ; his best monument is the noble gallery of 
pictures bequeathed by him to the nation, which 
will ever be the most lasting memorial of his fame. 
To reach Rome, the capital of the fine arts, is 
usually the highest ambition of the art student. 
But the journey to Rome is costly, and the student 
is often poor. With a will resolute to overcome 


difficulties, Rome may, however, at last be reached. 
Thus Francois Perrier, an early French painter, in 
his eager desire to visit the Eternal City, consented 
to act as guide to a blind vagrant. After long 
wanderings he reached the Vatican, studied and 
became famous. Not less enthusiasm was dis- 
played by Jacques Callot in his determination to 
visit Rome. Though opposed by his father in his 
wish to be an artist, the boy would not be baulked, 
but fled from home to make his way to Italy. 
Having set out without means, he was soon 
reduced to great straits ; but falling in with a band 
of gipsies, he joined their company, and wandered 
about with them from one fair to another, sharing 
in their numerous adventures. During this remark- 
able journey Callot picked up much of that extra- 
ordinary knowledge of figure, feature, and character 
which he afterwards reproduced, sometimes in such 
exaggerated forms, in his wonderful engravings. 

When Callot at length reached Florence, a 
gentleman, pleased with his ingenious ardour, 
placed him with an artist to study; but he was 
not satisfied to stop short of Rome, and we find 
him shortly on his way thither. At Rome he 
made the acquaintance of Porigi and Thomassin, 
who, on seeing his crayon sketches, predicted for 
him a brilliant career as an artist. But a friend 
of Callot's family having accidentally encountered 
him, took steps to compel the fugitive to return 
home. By this time he had acquired such a love 
of wandering that he could not rest; so he ran 
away a second time, and a second time he was 
brought back by his elder brother, who caught 
him at Turin. At last the father, seeing resistance 
was in vain, gave his reluctant consent to Callot's 


prosecuting his studies at Rome. Thither he went 
accordingly ; and this time he remained, diligently 
studying design and engraving for several years, 
under competent masters. On his way back to 
France, he was encouraged by Cosmo II. to remain 
at Florence, where he studied and worked for 
several years more. On the death of his patron 
he returned to his family at Nancy, where, by the 
use of his burin and needle, he shortly acquired 
both wealth and fame. When Nancy was taken 
by siege during the civil war, Callot was requested 
by Richelieu to make a design and engraving of 
the event, but the artist would not commemorate 
the disaster which had befallen his native place, 
and he refused point-blank. Richelieu could not 
shake his resolution, and threw him into prison. 
There Callot met with some of his old friends 
the gipsies, who had relieved his wants on his 
first journey to Rome. When Louis XIII. heard 
of his imprisonment, he not only released him, 
but offered to grant him any favour he might ask. 
Callot immediately requested that his old com- 
panions, the gipsies, might be set free and per- 
mitted to beg in Paris without molestation. This 
odd request was granted on condition that Callot 
should engrave their portraits, and hence his 
curious book of engravings entitled ' The Beggars.' 
Louis is said to have offered Callot a pension of 
3,000 livres provided he would not leave Paris ; 
but the artist was now too much of a Bohemian, 
and prized his liberty too highly to permit him 
to accept it; and he returned to Nancy, where he 
worked till his death. His industry may be inferred 
from the number of his engravings and etchings, 
of which he left not fewer than 1,600. He was 



especially fond of grotesque subjects, which he 
treated with great skill ; his free etchings, touched 
with the graver, being executed with especial 
delicacy and wonderful minuteness. 

Still more romantic and adventurous was the 
career of Benvenuto Cellini, the marvellous gold- 
worker, painter, sculptor, engraver, engineer, and 
author. His life, as told by himself, is one of the 
most extraordinary autobiographies ever written. 
Giovanni Cellini, his father, was one of the Court 
musicians to Lorenzo de Medici at Florence; and 
his highest ambition concerning his son Benvenuto 
was that he should become an expert player on 
the flute. But Giovanni, having lost his appoint- 
ment, found it necessary to send his son to learn 
some trade, and he was apprenticed to a goldsmith. 
The boy had already displayed a love of drawing 
and of art; and, applying himself to his business, 
he soon became a dexterous workman. Having 
got mixed up in a quarrel with some of the towns- 
people, he was banished for six months, during 
which period he worked with a goldsmith at Sienna, 
gaining further experience in jewellery and gold- 

His father still insisting on his becoming a 
flute-player, Benvenuto continued to practise on 
the instrument, though he detested it. His chief 
pleasure was in art, which he pursued with 
enthusiasm. Returning to Florence, he carefully 
studied the designs of Leonardo da Vinci and 
Michael Angelo; and, still further to improve 
himself in gold-working, he went on foot to Rome, 
where he met with a variety of adventures. He 
returned to Florence with the reputation of being 
a most expert worker in the precious metals, and 


his skill was soon in great request. But being 
of an irascible temper, he was constantly getting 
into scrapes, and was frequently under the necessity 
of flying for his life. Thus he fled from Florence 
in the disguise of a friar, again taking refuge at 
Sienna, and afterwards at Rome. 

During his second residence in Rome, Cellini 
met with extensive patronage, and he was taken 
into the Pope's service in the double capacity of 
goldsmith and musician. He was constantly study- 
ing and improving himself by acquaintance with 
the works of the best masters. He mounted jewels, 
finished enamels, engraved seals, and designed and 
executed works in gold, silver, and bronze, in such 
a style as to excel all other artists. Whenever he 
heard of a goldsmith who was famous in any 
particular branch, he immediately determined to 
surpass him. Thus it was that he rivalled the 
medals of one, the enamels of another, and the 
jewellery of a third ; in fact, there was not a branch 
of his business that he did not feel impelled to 
excel in. 

Working in this spirit, it is not so wonderful 
that Cellini should have been able to accomplish 
so much. He was a man of indefatigable activity, 
and was constantly on the move. At one time 
we find him at Florence, at another at Rome ; then 
he is at Mantua, at Rome, at Naples, and back 
to Florence again ; then at Venice, and in Paris, 
making all his long journeys on horseback. He 
could not carry much luggage with him ; so, 
wherever he went, he usually began by making 
his own tools. He not only designed his works, 
but executed them himself, hammered and carved, 
and cast and shaped them with his own hands. 


Indeed, his works have the impress of genius so 
clearly stamped upon them, that they could never 
have been designed by one person and executed 
by another. The humblest article a buckle for a 
lady's girdle, a seal, a locket, a brooch, a ring, or 
a button became in his hands a beautiful work 
of art. 

Cellini was remarkable for his readiness and 
dexterity in handicraft. One day a surgeon entered 
the shop of Raffaello del Moro, the goldsmith, to 
perform an operation on his daughter's hand. On 
looking at the surgeon's instruments, Cellini, who 
was present, found them rude and clumsy, as they 
usually were in those days, and he asked the 
surgeon to proceed no further with the operation 
for a quarter of an hour. He then ran to his shop, 
and taking a piece of the finest steel, wrought 
out of it a beautifully finished knife, with which 
the operation was successfully performed. 

Among the statues executed by Cellini, the 
most important are the silver figure of Jupiter, 
executed at Paris for Francis I., and the Perseus, 
executed in bronze for the Grand Duke Cosmo 
of Florence. He also executed statues in marble of 
Apollo, Hyacinthus, Narcissus, and Neptune. The 
extraordinary incidents connected with the casting 
of the Perseus were peculiarly illustrative of the 
remarkable character of the man. 

The Grand Duke having expressed a decided 
opinion that the model, when shown to him in wax, 
could not possibly be cast in bronze, Cellini was 
immediately stimulated by the predicted impossi- 
bility, not only to attempt, but to do it. He first 
made the clay model, baked it, and covered it with 
wax, which he shaped into the perfect form of a 


statue. Then coating the wax with a sort of earth, 
he baked the second covering, during which the 
wax dissolved and escaped, leaving the space 
between the two layers for the reception of the 
metal. To avoid disturbance, the latter process 
was conducted in a pit dug immediately under 
the furnace, from which the liquid metal was to 
be introduced by pipes and apertures into the 
mould prepared for it. 

Cellini had purchased and laid in several loads 
of pine-wood, in anticipation of the process of cast- 
ing, which now began. The furnace was filled with 
pieces of brass and bronze, and the fire was lit. 
The resinous pine-wood was soon in such a furious 
blaze, that the shop took fire, and part of the roof 
was burnt ; while at the same time the wind blow- 
ing and the rain falling on the furnace kept down 
the heat, and prevented the metals from melting. 
For hours Cellini struggled to keep up the heat, 
continually throwing in more wood, until at length 
he became so exhausted and ill, that he feared 
he should die before the statue could be cast. He 
was forced to leave to his assistants the pouring 
in of the metal when melted, and betook himself 
to his bed. While those about him were condoling 
with him in his distress, a workman suddenly 
entered the room, lamenting that " poor Ben- 
venuto's work was irretrievably spoiled!" On 
hearing this, Cellini immediately sprang from his 
bed and rushed to the workshop, where he found 
the fire so much gone down that the meta! had 
again become hard. 

Sending across to a neighbour for a load of 
young oak which had been more than a year in 
drying, he soon had the fire blazing again and 


the metal melting and glittering. The wind was, 
however, still blowing with fury, and the rain fall- 
ing heavily; so, to protect himself, Cellini had 
some tables with pieces of tapestry and old clothes 
brought to him, behind which he went on hurling 
the wood into the furnace. A mass of pewter was 
thrown in upon the other metal, and by stirring, 
sometimes with iron and sometimes with long 
poles, the whole soon became completely melted 
At this juncture, when the trying moment was 
close at hand, a terrible noise as of a thunderbolt 
was heard, and a glittering of fire flashed before 
Cellini's eyes. The cover of the furnace had 
burst, and the metal began to flow ! Finding that 
it did not run with the proper velocity, Cellini 
rushed into the kitchen, bore away every piece 
of copper and pewter that it contained some two 
hundred porringers, dishes, and kettles of different 
kinds and threw them into the furnace. Then 
at length the metal flowed freely, and thus the 
splendid statue of Perseus was cast. 

The divine fury of genius in which Cellini 
rushed to his kitchen and stripped it of its utensils 
for the purposes of his furnace will remind the 
reader of the like act of Palissy in breaking up 
his furniture for the purpose of baking his earthen- 
ware. Excepting, however, in their enthusiasm, no 
two men could be less alike in character. Cellini 
was an Ishmael against whom, according to his 
own account, every man's hand was turned. But 
about his extraordinary skill as a workman, and 
his genius as an artist, there cannot be two 

Much less turbulent was the career of Nicolas 
Poussin, a man as pure and elevated in his ideas 


of art as he was in his daily life, and distinguished 
alike for his vigour of intellect, his rectitude of 
character, and his noble simplicity. He was born 
in a very humble station, at Andeleys, near Rouen, 
where his father kept a small school. The boy had 
the benefit of his parent's instruction, such as it 
was, but of that he is said to have been somewhat 
negligent, preferring to spend his time in covering 
his lesson-books and his slate with drawings. A 
country painter, much pleased with his sketches, 
besought his parents not to thwart him in his 
tastes. The painter agreed to give Poussin lessons, 
and he soon made such progress that his master 
had nothing more to teach him. Becoming restless, 
and desirous of further improving himself, Poussin, 
at the age of eighteen, set out for Paris, painting 
sign-boards on his way for a maintenance. 

At Paris a new world of art opened before him, 
exciting his wonder and stimulating his emulation. 
He worked diligently in many studios, drawing, 
copying, and painting pictures. After a time he 
resolved, if possible, to visit Rome, and set out 
on his journey ; but he only succeeded in getting 
as far as Florence, and again returned to Paris. 
A second attempt which he made to reach Rome 
was even less successful; for this time he only 
got as far as Lyons. He was, nevertheless, careful 
to take advantage of all opportunities for improve- 
ment which came in his way, and continued as 
sedulous as before in studying and working. 

Thus twelve years passed, years of obscurity 
and toil, of failures and disappointments, and 
probably of privations. At length Poussin suc- 
ceeded in reaching Rome. There he diligently 
studied the old masters, and especially the ancient 


statues, with whose perfection he was greatly 
impressed. For some time he lived with the 
sculptor Duquesnoi, as poor as himself, and assisted 
him in modelling figures after the antique. With 
him he carefully measured some of the most cele- 
brated statues in Rome, more particularly the 
1 Antinous ' : and it is supposed that this practice 
exercised considerable influence on the formation 
of his future style. At the same time he studied 
anatomy, practised drawing from the life, and made 
a great store of sketches of postures and attitudes 
of people whom he met, carefully reading at his 
leisure such standard books on art as he could 
borrow from his friends. 

During all this time he remained very poor, 
satisfied to be continually improving himself. He 
was glad to sell his pictures for whatever they 
would bring. One, of a prophet, he sold for eight 
livres ; and another, the ' Plague of the Philistines,' 
he sold for 60 crowns a picture afterwards bought 
by Cardinal de Richelieu for a thousand. To add 
to his troubles, he was stricken by a cruel malady, 
during the helplessness occasioned by which the 
Chevalier del Posso assisted him with money. For 
this gentleman Poussin afterwards painted the 
' Rest in the Desert,' a fine picture, which far 
more than repaid the advances made during his 

The brave man went on toiling and learning 
through suffering. Still aiming at higher things, 
he went to Florence and Venice, enlarging the 
range of his studies. The fruits of his conscientious 
labour at length appeared in the series of great 
pictures which he now began to produce, his 
1 Death of Germanicus,' followed by ' Extreme 


Unction,' the ' Testament of Eudamidas/ the 
'Manna/ and the 'Abduction of the Sabines.' 

The reputation of Poussin, however, grew but 
slowly. He was of a retiring disposition and 
shunned society. People gave him credit for being 
a thinker much more than a painter. When not 
actually employed in painting, he took long solitary 
walks in the country, meditating the designs of 
future pictures. One of his few friends while at 
Rome was Claude Lorraine, with whom he spent 
many hours at a time on the terrace of La Trinite- 
du-Mont, conversing about art and antiquarianism. 
The monotony and the quiet of Rome were suited 
to his taste, and, provided he could earn a moderate 
living by his brush, he had no wish to leave it. 

But his fame now extended beyond Rome, and 
repeated invitations were sent him to return to 
Paris. He was offered the appointment of principal 
painter to the King. At first he hesitated ; quoted 
the Italian proverb, Chi sta bene non si muove ; said 
he had lived fifteen years in Rome, married a 
wife there, and looked forward to dying and being 
buried there. Urged again, he consented, and re- 
turned to Paris. But his appearance there awakened 
much professional jealousy, and he soon wished 
himself back in Rome again. While in Paris he 
painted some of his greatest works his 'Saint 
Xavier,' the ' Baptism/ and the ' Last Supper.' He 
was kept constantly at work. At first he did what- 
ever he was asked to do, such as designing frontis- 
pieces for the royal books, more particularly a 
Bible and a Virgil, cartoons for the Louvre, and 
designs for tapestry; but at length he expostu- 
lated : " It is impossible for me," he said to 
M. de Chanteloup, " to work at the same time at 


frontispieces for books, at a Virgin, at a picture 
of the Congregation of St. Louis, at the various 
designs for the gallery, and, finally, at designs for 
the royal tapestry. I have only one pair of hands 
and a feeble head, and can neither be helped nor 
can my labours be lightened by another." 

Annoyed by the enemies his success had 
provoked and whom he was unable to conciliate, 
he determined, at the end of less than two years' 
labour in Paris, to return to Rome. Again settled 
there in his humble dwelling on Mont Pincio, he 
employed himself diligently in the practice of his 
art during the remaining years of his life, living 
in great simplicity and privacy. Though suffering 
much from the disease which afflicted him, he 
solaced himself by study, always striving after 
excellence. " In growing old," he said, " I feel 
myself becoming more and more inflamed with the 
desire of surpassing myself and reaching the highest 
degree of perfection." Thus toiling, struggling, 
and suffering, Poussin spent his later years. He 
had no children ; his wife died before him ; all his 
friends were gone : so that in his old age he was 
left absolutely alone in Rome, so full of tombs, and 
died there in 1665, bequeathing to his relatives at 
Andeleys the savings of his life, amounting to 
about 1,000 crowns; and leaving behind him, as a 
legacy to his race, the great works of his genius. 

The career of Ary Scheffer furnishes one of the 
best examples in modern times of a like high-minded 
devotion to art. Born at Dordrecht, the son of 
a German artist, he early manifested an aptitude 
for drawing and painting, which his parents en- 
couraged. His father dying while he was still 
young, his mother resolved, though her means 


were but small, to remove the family to Paris, in 
order that her son might obtain the best oppor- 
tunities for instruction. There young Scheffer was 
placed with Guerin the painter. But his mother's 
means were too limited to permit him to devote 
himself exclusively to study. She had sold the 
few jewels she possessed, and refused herself every 
indulgence, in order to forward the instruction of 
her other children. Under such circumstances, it 
was natural that Ary should wish to help her ; and 
by the time he was eighteen years of age he began 
to paint small pictures of simple subjects, which 
met with a ready sale at moderate prices. He also 
practised portrait painting, at the same time gather- 
ing experience and earning honest money. He 
gradually improved in drawing, colouring, and 
composition. The ' Baptism ' marked a new epoch 
in his career, and from that point he went on ad- 
vancing, until his fame culminated in his pictures 
illustrative of ' Faust,' his ' Francesca da Rimini,' 
'Christ the Consoler,' the 'Holy Women,' 'St. 
Monica and St. Augustin,' and many other noble 

" The amount of labour, thought, and attention," 
says Mrs. Grote, "which Scheffer brought to the 
production of the ' Francesca,' must have been 
enormous. In truth, his technical education having 
been so imperfect, he was forced to climb the steep 
of art by drawing upon his own resources, and 
thus, whilst his hand was at work, his mind was 
engaged in meditation. He had to try various 
processes of handling, and experiments in colour- 
ing; to paint and repaint, with tedious and un- 
remitting assiduity. But Nature had endowed him 
with that which proved in some sort an equivalent 


for shortcomings of a professional kind. His own 
elevation of character, and his profound sensibility, 
aided him in acting upon the feelings of others 
through the medium of the pencil." * 

One of the artists whom Scheffer most admired 
was Flaxman ; and he once said to a friend, " If I 
have unconsciously borrowed from any one in the 
design of the ' Francesca,' it must have been from 
something I had seen among Flaxman's drawings." 
John Flaxman was the son of a humble seller of 
plaster casts in New Street, Covent Garden. 
When a child, he was such an invalid that it was 
his custom to sit behind his father's shop counter 
propped by pillows, amusing himself with drawing 
and reading. A benevolent clergyman, the Rev. 
Mr. Matthews, calling at the shop one day, saw 
the boy trying to read a book, and, on inquiring 
what it was, found it to be a Cornelius Nepos, 
which his father had picked up for a few pence at 
a bookstall. The gentleman, after some conversa- 
tion with the boy, said that was not the proper 
book for him to read, but that he would bring him 
one. The next day he called with translations of 
Homer and 'Don Quixote,' which the boy pro- 
ceeded to read with great avidity. His mind was 
soon filled with the heroism which breathed 
through the pages of the former, and, with the 
stucco Ajaxes and Achilleses about him, ranged 
along the shop shelves, the ambition took pos- 
session of him, that he too would design and 
embody in poetic forms those majestic heroes. 

Like all youthful efforts, his first designs were 
crude. The proud father one day showed some of 
them to Roubilliac the sculptor, who turned from 
* Mrs. Grote's ' Memoir of the Life of Ary Scheffer,' p. 67. 


them with a contemptuous " pshaw ! " But the boy 
had the right stuff in him ; he had industry and 
patience ; and he continued to labour incessantly 
at his books and drawings. He then tried his 
young powers in modelling figures in plaster of 
Paris, wax, and clay. Some of these early works 
are still preserved, not because of their merit, but 
because they are curious as the first healthy efforts 
of patient genius. It was long before the boy 
could walk, and he only learnt to do so by hobbling 
along upon crutches. At length he became strong 
enough to walk without them. 

The kind Mr. Matthews invited him to his house, 
where his wife explained Homer and Milton to 
him. They helped him also in his self-culture 
giving him lessons in Greek and Latin, the study 
of whkh he prosecuted at home. By dint of 
patience and perseverance, his drawing improved 
so much that he obtained a commission from a 
lady to execute six original drawings in black 
chalk of subjects in Homer. His first commission ! 
What an event in the artist's life ! A surgeon's 
first fee, a lawyer's first retainer, a legislator's first 
speech, a singer's first appearance behind the foot- 
lights, an author's first book, are not any of them 
more full of interest to the aspirant for fame than 
the artist's first commission. The boy at once 
proceeded to execute the order, and he was both 
well praised and well paid for his work. 

At fifteen Flaxman entered a pupil at the Royal 
Academy. Notwithstanding his retiring disposi- 
tion, he soon became known among the students, 
and great things were expected of him. Nor were 
their expectations disappointed : in his fifteenth 
year he gained the silver prize, and next year he 


became a candidate for the gold one. Everybody 
prophesied that he would carry off the medal, for 
there was none who surpassed him in ability and 
industry. Yet he lost it, and the gold medal was 
adjudged to a pupil who was not afterwards heard 
of. This failure on the part of the youth was 
really of service to him ; for defeats do not long 
cast down the resolute-hearted, but only serve to 
call forth their real powers. " Give me time," said 
he to his father, " and I will yet produce works 
that the Academy will be proud to recognize." He 
redoubled his efforts, spared no pains, designed and 
modelled incessantly, and made steady if not rapid 
progress. But meanwhile poverty threatened his 
father's household ; the plaster-cast trade yielded 
a very bare living ; and young Flaxman, with reso- 
lute self-denial, curtailed his hours of study, and 
devoted himself to helping his father in the humble 
details of his business. He laid aside his Homer 
to take up the plaster-trowel. He was willing to 
work in the humblest department of the trade so 
that his father's family might be supported, and the 
wolf kept from the door. To this drudgery of his 
art he served a long apprenticeship ; but it did him 
good. It familiarized him with steady work, and 
cultivated in him the spirit of patience. The dis- 
cipline may have been hard, but it was wholesome. 
Happily, young Flaxman's skill in design had 
reached the knowledge of Josiah Wedgwood, who 
sought him out for the purpose of employing him 
to design improved patterns of china and earthen- 
ware. It may seem a humble department of art 
for such a genius as Flaxman to work in ; but it 
really was not so. An artist may be labouring 
truly in his vocation while designing a common 


teapot or water-jug. Articles in daily use amongst 
the people, which are before their eyes at every 
meal, may be made the vehicles of education to 
all, and minister to their highest culture. The 
most ambitious artist may thus confer a greater 
practical benefit on his countrymen than by exe- 
cuting an elaborate work which he may sell for 
thousands of pounds to be placed in some wealthy 
man's gallery, where it is hidden away from public 
sight. Before Wedgwood's time the designs which 
figured upon our china and stoneware were hideous 
both in drawing and execution, and he determined 
to improve both. Flaxman did his best to carry 
out the manufacturer's views. He supplied him 
from time to time with models and designs of 
various pieces of earthenware, the subjects of 
which were principally from ancient verse and 
history. Many of them are still in existence, and 
some are equal in beauty and simplicity to his 
after designs for marble. The celebrated Etruscan 
vases, specimens of which were to be found in 
public museums and in the cabinets of the curious, 
furnished him with the best examples of form, 
and these he embellished with his own elegant 
device. Stuart's ' Athens,' then recently published, 
furnished him with specimens of the purest-shaped 
Greek utensils; of these he adopted the best, 
and worked them into shapes of elegance and 
beauty. Flaxman then saw that he was labouring 
in a great work no less than the promotion of 
popular education ; and he was proud, in after 
life, to allude to his early labours in this walk, 
by which he was enabled at the same time to 
cultivate his love of the beautiful, to diffuse a 
taste, for art among the people, and to replenish 


his own purse, while he promoted the prosperity 
of his friend and benefactor. 

At length, in the year 1782, when twenty-seven 
years of age, he quitted his father's roof and rented 
a small house and studio in Wardour Street, Soho ; 
and what was more, he married Ann Denman was 
the name of his wife and a cheerful, bright-souled, 
noble woman she was. He believed that in marry- 
ing her he should be able to work with an intenser 
spirit ; for, like him, she had a taste for poetry and 
art; and besides was an enthusiastic admirer 
of her husband's genius. Yet when Sir Joshua 
Reynolds himself a bachelor met Flaxman shortly 
after his marriage, he said to him, " So, Flaxman, I 
am told you are married ; if so, sir, I tell you you 
are ruined for an artist." Flaxman went straight 
home, sat down beside his wife, took her hand in 
his, and said, "Ann, I am ruined for an artist." 
" How so, John ? How has it happened ? and who 
has done it?" "It happened," he replied, "in the 
church, and Ann Denman has done it." He then 
told her of Sir Joshua's remark whose opinion 
was well known, and had often been expressed, 
that if students would excel they must bring the 
whole powers of their mind to bear upon their 
art, from the moment they rose until they went 
to bed ; and also, that no man could be a great 
artist unless he studied the grand works of RafTaelle, 
Michael Angelo, and others, at Rome and Florence. 
" And I," said Flaxman, drawing up his little figure 
to its full height, "/would be a great artist." " And 
a great artist you shall be," said his wife, "and 
visit Rome too, if that be really necessary to make 
you great." " But how ? " asked Flaxman. " Work 
and economize" rejoined the brave wife ; " I will 


never have it said that Ann Denman ruined John 
Flaxman for an artist." And so it was determined 
by the pair that the journey to Rome was to be 
made when their means would admit. " I will 
go to Rome," said Flaxman, " and show the President 
that wedlock is for a man's good rather than his 
harm ; and you, Ann, shall accompany me." 

Patiently and happily the affectionate couple 
plodded on during five years in their humble little 
home in Wardour Street, always with the long 
journey to Rome before them. It was never lost 
sight of for a moment, and not a penny was 
uselessly spent that could be saved towards the 
necessary expenses. They said no word to any one 
about their project ; solicited no aid from the 
Academy, but trusted only to their own patient 
labour and love to pursue and achieve their object. 
During this time Flaxman exhibited very few works. 
He could not afford marble to experiment in 
original designs ; but he obtained frequent com- 
missions for monuments, by the profits of which 
he maintained himself. He still worked for 
Wedgwood, who was a prompt paymaster ; and, 
on the whole, he was thriving, happy, and hopeful. 
His local respectability was even such as to bring 
local honours and local work upon him ; for he 
was elected by the ratepayers to collect the watch- 
rate for the Parish of St. Anne, when he might 
be seen going about with an ink-bottle suspended 
from his button-hole, collecting the money. 

At length Flaxman and his wife, having accumu- 
lated a sufficient store of savings, set out for Rome. 
Arrived there, he applied himself diligently to 
study, maintaining himself, like other poor artists, 
by making copies from the antique. English visitors 



sought his studio, and gave him commissions ; and 
it was then that he composed his beautiful designs 
illustrative of Homer, ^schylus, and Dante. The 
price paid for them was moderate only fifteen 
shillings a-piece ; but Flaxman worked for art as 
well as money ; and the beauty of the designs 
brought him other friends and patrons. He executed 
'Cupid and Aurora' for the munificent Thomas Hope, 
and the ' Fury of Athamas ' for the Earl of Bristol. 
He then prepared to return to England, his taste 
improved and cultivated by careful study; but 
before he left Italy the Academies of Florence 
and Carrara recognized his merit by electing him 
a member. 

His fame preceded him to London, where he 
soon found abundant employment. While at Rome 
he had been commissioned to execute his famous 
monument in memory of Lord Mansfield, and it 
was erected in the north transept of Westminster 
Abbey shortly after his return. It stands there 
in majestic grandeur, a monument to the genius 
of Flaxman himself calm, simple, and severe. No 
wonder that Banks, the sculptor, then in the heyday 
of his fame, exclaimed when he saw it, " This little 
man cuts us all out ! " 

When the members of the Royal Academy 
heard of Flaxman's return, and especially when 
they had an opportunity of seeing and admiring 
his portrait-statue of Mansfield, they were eager 
to have him enrolled among their number. He 
allowed his name to be proposed in the candidates' 
list of associates, and was immediately elected. 
Shortly after, he appeared in an entirely new 
character. The little boy who had begun his 
studies behind the plaster-cast-seller's shop-counter 


in New Street, Covent Garden, was now a man 
of high intellect and recognized supremacy in art, 
to instruct students, in the character of Professor 
of Sculpture to the Royal Academy ! And no man 
better deserved to fill that distinguished office ; 
for none is so able to instruct others as he who, 
for himself and by his own efforts, has learnt to 
grapple with and overcome difficulties. 

After a long, peaceful, and happy life, Flaxman 
found himself growing old. The loss which he 
sustained by the death of his affectionate wife Ann 
was a severe shock to him ; but he survived her 
several years, during which he executed his cele- 
brated 'Shield of Achilles,' and his noble 'Arch- 
angel Michael vanquishing Satan,' perhaps his 
two greatest works. 

Chantrey was a more robust man ; somewhat 
rough, but hearty in his demeanour ; proud of his 
successful struggle with the difficulties which beset 
him in early life ; and, above all, proud of his 
independence. He was born a poor man's child, 
at Norton, near Sheffield. His father dying when 
he was a mere boy, his mother married again. 
Young Chantrey used to drive an ass laden with 
milk-cans across its back into the neighbouring 
town of Sheffield, and there serve his mother's 
customers with milk. Such was the humble be- 
ginning of his industrial career ; and it was by 
his own strength that he rose from that position, 
and achieved the highest eminence as an artist. 
Not taking kindly to his step-father, the boy was 
sent to trade, and was first placed with a grocer 
in Sheffield. The business was very distasteful 
to him ; but, passing a carver's shop window one 
day, his eye was attracted by the glittering articles 


it contained, and, charmed with the idea of being 
a carver, he begged to be released from the grocery 
business with that object. His friends consented, 
and he was bound apprentice to the carver and 
gilder for seven years. His new master, besides 
being a carver in wood, was also a dealer in prints 
and plaster models ; and Chantrey at once set 
about imitating both, studying with great industry 
and energy. All his spare hours were devoted to 
drawing, modelling, and self-improvement, and he 
often carried his labours far into the night. Before 
his apprenticeship was out at the age of twenty- 
one he paid over to his master the whole wealth 
which he was able to muster a sum of $o/. to 
cancel his indentures, determined to devote himself 
to the career of an artist. He then made the best 
of his way to London, and with characteristic 
good sense sought employment as an assistant 
carver, studying painting and modelling at his bye- 
hours. Among the jobs on which he was first em- 
ployed as a journeyman carver was the decoration 
of the dining-room of Mr. Rogers, the poet a room 
in which he was in after years a welcome visitor ; 
and he usually took pleasure in pointing out his 
early handiwork to the guests whom he met at 
his friend's table. 

Returning to Sheffield on a professional visit, 
he advertised himself in the local papers as a 
painter of portraits in crayons and miniatures, and 
also in oil. For his first crayon portrait he was 
paid a guinea by a cutler ; and for a portrait in 
oil a confectioner paid him as much as 5/. and a 
pair of top boots ! Chantrey was soon in London 
again to study at the Royal Academy; and next 
time he returned to Sheffield he advertised himself 


as ready to model plaster busts of his townsmen, 
as well as paint portraits of them. He was even 
selected to design a monument to a deceased vicar 
of the town, and executed it to the general satis- 
faction. When in London he used a room over 
a stable as a studio, and there he modelled his 
first original work for exhibition. It was a gigantic 
head of Satan. Towards the close of Chantrey's 
life, a friend passing through his studio was struck 
by this model lying in a corner. " That head," 
said the sculptor, "was the first thing that I did 
after I came to London. I worked at it in a garret 
with a paper cap on my head ; and as I could then 
afford only one candle, I stuck that one in my cap 
that it might move along with me, and give me 
light whichever way I turned." Flaxman saw and 
admired this head at the Academy Exhibition, and 
recommended Chantrey for the execution of the 
busts of four admirals, required for the Naval 
Asylum at Greenwich. This commission led to 
others, and painting was given up. But for eight 
years before he had not earned 5/. by his model- 
ling. His famous head of Home Tooke was such 
a success that, according to his own account, it 
brought him commissions amounting to i2,ooo/. 

Chantrey had now succeeded, but he had worked 
hard, and fairly earned his good fortune. He 
was selected from amongst sixteen competitors to 
execute the statue of George III. for the city of 
London. A few years later he produced the ex- 
quisite monument of the ' Sleeping Children,' now 
in Lichfield Cathedral, a work of great tenderness 
and beauty ; and thenceforward his career was one 
of increasing honour, fame, and prosperity. His 
patience, industry, and steady perseverance were 


the means by which he achieved his greatness. 
Nature endowed him with genius, and his sound 
sense enabled him to employ the precious gift as 
a blessing. He was prudent and shrewd, like the 
men amongst whom he was born ; the pocket-book 
which accompanied him on his Italian tour contain- 
ing mingled notes on art, records of daily expenses, 
and the current prices of marble. His tastes were 
simple, and he made his finest subjects great by 
the mere force of simplicity. His statue of Watt, 
in Handsworth church, seems to us the very con- 
summation of art ; yet it is perfectly artless and 
simple. His generosity to brother artists in need 
was splendid, but quiet and unostentatious. He 
left the principal part of his fortune to the Royal 
Academy for the promotion of British art. 

The same honest and persistent industry was 
throughout distinctive of the career of David 
Wilkie. The son of a Scotch minister, he gave 
early indications of an artistic turn ; and though 
he was a negligent and inapt scholar, he was a 
sedulous drawer of faces and figures. A silent boy, 
he already displayed that quiet, concentrated energy 
of character which distinguished him through life. 
He was always on the look-out for an opportunity 
to draw, and the walls of the manse, or the smooth 
sand by the river side, were alike convenient for 
his purpose. Any sort of tool would serve him ; 
like Giotto, he found a pencil in a burnt stick, 
a prepared canvas in any smooth stone, and the 
subject for a picture in every ragged mendicant he 
met. When he visited a house, he generally left 
his mark on the walls as an indication of his 
presence, sometimes to the disgust of cleanly house- 
wives. In short, notwithstanding the aversion 


of his father, the minister, to the "sinful" pro- 
fession of painting, Wilkie's strong propensity was 
not to be thwarted, and he became an artist, work- 
ing his way manfully up the steep of difficulty. 
Though rejected on his first application as a 
candidate for admission to the Scottish Academy, 
at Edinburgh, on account of the rudeness and in- 
accuracy of his introductory specimens, he per- 
severed in producing better, until he was admitted. 
But his progress was slow. He applied himself 
diligently to the drawing of the human figure, and 
held on with the determination to succeed, as if 
with a resolute confidence in the result. He dis- 
played none of the eccentric humour and fitful 
application of many youths who conceive them- 
selves geniuses, but kept up the routine of steady 
application to such an extent that he himself was 
afterwards accustomed to attribute his success to 
his dogged perseverance rather than to any higher 
innate power. " The single element," he said, " in 
all the progressive movements of my pencil was 
persevering industry." At Edinburgh he gained 
a few premiums, thought of turning his attention 
to portrait painting, with a view to its higher and 
more certain remuneration, but eventually went 
boldly into the line in which he earned his fame, 
and painted his ' Pitlessie Fair.' What was 
bolder still, he determined to proceed to London, 
on account of its presenting so much wider a 
field for study and work; and the poor Scotch 
lad arrived in town, and painted his ' Village 
Politicians ' while living in a humble lodging on 
eighteen shillings a week. 

Notwithstanding the success of this picture, and 
the commissions which followed it, Wilkie long 


continued poor. The prices which his works 
realized were not great, for he bestowed upon them 
so much time and labour that his earnings con- 
tinued comparatively small for many years. Every 
picture was carefully studied and elaborated before- 
hand ; nothing was struck off at a heat ; many 
occupied him for years touching, retouching, and 
improving them until they finally passed out of 
his hands. As with Reynolds, his motto was 
" Work ! work ! work ! " and, like him, he expressed 
great dislike for talking artists. Talkers may sow, 
but the silent reap. " Let us be doing something," 
was his oblique mode of rebuking the loquacious 
and admonishing the idle. He once related to his 
friend Constable that when he studied at the 
Scottish Academy, Graham, the master of it, was 
accustomed to say to the students, in the words of 
Reynolds, " If you have genius, industry will im- 
prove it; if you have none, industry will supply 
its place." " So," said Wilkie, " I was determined 
to be very industrious, for I knew I had no genius." 
He also told Constable that when Linnell and 
Burnett, his fellow-students in London, were talking 
about art, he always contrived to get as close to 
them as he could to hear all they said, " for," said 
he, " they know a great deal, and I know very 
little." This was said with perfect sincerity, for 
Wilkie was habitually modest. One of the first 
things that he did with the sum of thirty pounds 
which he obtained from Lord Mansfield for his 
1 Village Politicians ' was to buy a present of 
bonnets, shawls, and dresses for his mother and 
sister at home, though but little able to afford it 
at the time. Wilkie's early poverty had trained him 
in habits of strict economy, which were, however, 


consistent with a noble liberality, as appears from 
sundry passages in the 'Autobiography of Abraham 
Raimbach,' the engraver. 

William Etty was another notable instance of 
unflagging industry and indomitable perseverance 
in art. His father was a gingerbread and spice- 
maker at York, and his mother a woman of con- 
siderable force and originality of character was 
the daughter of a ropemaker. The boy early dis- 
played a love of drawing, covering walls, floors, 
and tables with specimens of his skill ; his first 
crayon being a farthing's worth of chalk, and this 
giving place to a piece of coal or a bit of charred 
stick. His mother knowing nothing of art, put 
the boy apprentice to a trade that of a printer. 
But in his leisure hours he went on with the 
practice of drawing; and when his time was out 
he determined to follow his bent he would be a 
painter and nothing else. Fortunately his uncle 
and elder brother were able and willing to help 
him in his new career, and they provided him with 
the means of entering as pupil at the Royal 
Academy. We observe, from Leslie's Autobio- 
graphy, that Etty was looked upon by his fellow- 
students as a worthy but dull, plodding person, 
who would never distinguish himself. But he had 
in him the divine faculty of work, and diligently 
plodded his way upward to eminence in the highest 
walks of art. 

Many artists have had to encounter privations 
which have tried their courage and endurance to 
the uttermost before they succeeded. What number 
may have sunk under them we can never know. 
Martin encountered difficulties in the course of his 
career such as perhaps fall to the lot of few. More 


than once he found himself on the verge of starva- 
tion while engaged on his first great picture. It 
is related of him that on one occasion he found 
himself reduced to his last shilling a bright shilling 
which he had kept because of its very brightness, 
but at length he found it necessary to exchange 
it for bread. He went to a baker's shop, bought 
a loaf, and was taking it away, when the baker 
snatched it from him, and tossed back the shilling 
to the starving painter. The bright shilling had 
failed him in his hour of need it was a bad 
one ! Returning to his lodgings, he rummaged 
his trunk for some remaining crust to satisfy 
his hunger. Upheld throughout by the victorious 
power of enthusiasm, he pursued his design with 
unsubdued energy. He had the courage to work 
on and to wait; and when, a few days after, he 
found an opportunity to exhibit his picture, he was 
from that time famous. Like many other great 
artists, his life proves that, in despite of outward 
circumstances, genius, aided by industry, will be its 
own protector, and that fame, though she comes 
late, will never ultimately refuse her favour to real 

The most careful discipline and training after 
academic methods will fail in making an artist, 
unless he himself take an active part in the work. 
Like every highly cultivated man, he must be 
mainly self-educated. When Pugin, who was 
brought up in his father's office, had learnt all 
that he could learn of architecture according to 
the usual formulas, he still found that he had 
learned but little ; and that he must begin at 
the beginning, and pass through the discipline of 
labour. Young Pugin accordingly hired himself 


out as a common carpenter at Covent Garden 
Theatre first working under the stage, then behind 
the flys, then upon the stage itself. He thus ac- 
quired a familiarity with work, and cultivated an 
architectural taste, to which the diversity of the 
mechanical employment about a large operatic 
establishment is peculiarly favourable. When the 
theatre closed for the season, he worked a sailing- 
ship between London and some French ports, 
carrying on at the same time a profitable trade. 
At every opportunity he would land and make 
drawings of any old building, and especially of any 
ecclesiastical structure which fell in his way. After- 
wards he would make special journeys to the 
Continent for the same purpose, and return 
home laden with drawings. Thus he plodded 
and laboured on, making sure of the excellence 
and distinction which he eventually achieved. 

A similar illustration of plodding industry in the 
same walk is presented in the career of George 
Kemp, the architect of the beautiful Scott Monu- 
ment at Edinburgh. He was the son of a poor 
shepherd, who pursued his calling on the southern 
slope of the Pentland Hills. Amidst that pastoral 
solitude the boy had no opportunity of enjoying 
the contemplation of works of art. It happened, 
however, that in his tenth year he was sent on 
a message to Roslin, by the farmer for whom his 
father herded sheep, and the sight of the beautiful 
castle and chapel there seems to have made a vivid 
and enduring impression on his mind. Probably 
to enable him to indulge his love of architectural 
construction, the boy besought his father to let 
him be a joiner ; and he was accordingly put 
apprentice to a neighbouring village carpenter. 


Having served his time, he went to Galashiels to 
seek work. As he was plodding along the valley 
of the Tweed with his tools upon his back, a 
carriage overtook him near Elibank Tower; and 
the coachman, doubtless at the suggestion of his 
master, who was seated inside, having asked the 
youth how far he had to walk, and learning that 
he was on his way to Galashiels, invited him to 
mount the box beside him, and thus to ride thither. 
It turned out that the kindly gentleman inside was 
no other than Sir Walter Scott, then travelling on 
his official duty as Sheriff of Selkirkshire. Whilst 
working at Galashiels, Kemp had frequent oppor- 
tunities of visiting Melrose, Dryburgh, and Jedburgh 
Abbeys, which he studied carefully. Inspired by 
his love of architecture, he worked his way as a 
carpenter over the greater part of the North of 
England, never omitting an opportunity of in- 
specting and making sketches of any fine Gothic 
building. On one occasion, when working in 
Lancashire, he walked fifty miles to York, spent 
a week in carefully examining the Minster, and 
returned in like manner on foot. We next find 
him in Glasgow, where he remained four years, 
studying the fine cathedral there during his spare 
time. He returned to England again, this time 
working his way farther south ; studying Canter- 
bury, Winchester, Tintern, and other well-known 
structures. In 1824 he formed the design of 
travelling over Europe with the same object, sup- 
porting himself by his trade. Reaching Boulogne, 
he proceeded by Abbeville and Beauvais to Paris, 
spending a few weeks making drawings and 
studies at each place. His skill as a mechanic, and 
especially his knowledge of mill-work, readily 


secured him employment wherever he went ; and 
he usually chose the site of his employment in the 
neighbourhood of some fine old Gothic structure, 
in studying which he occupied his leisure. After 
a year's working, travel, and study abroad, he re- 
turned to Scotland. He continued his studies, and 
became a proficient in drawing and perspective : 
Melrose was his favourite ruin, and he produced 
several elaborate drawings of the building, one of 
which, exhibiting it in a " restored " state, was 
afterwards engraved. He also obtained employ- 
ment as a modeller of architectural designs, and 
made drawings for a work begun by an Edinburgh 
engraver, after the plan of Britton's ' Cathedral 
Antiquities.' This was a task congenial to his 
tastes, and he laboured at it with an enthusiasm 
which ensured its rapid advance ; walking on foot 
for the purpose over half Scotland, and living as 
an ordinary mechanic, whilst executing drawings 
which would have done credit to the best masters 
in the art. The projector of the work having died 
suddenly, the publication was however stopped, 
and Kemp sought other employment. Few knew 
of the genius of this man for he was exceedingly 
taciturn and habitually modest when the com- 
mittee of the Scott Monument offered a prize for 
the best design. The competitors were numerous 
including some of the greatest names in classical 
architecture ; but the design unanimously selected 
was that of George Kemp, who was working at 
Kilwinning Abbey in Ayrshire, many miles off, 
when the letter reached him intimating the decision 
of the committee. Poor Kemp ! Shortly after this 
event he met an untimely death, and did not live 
to see the first result of his indefatigable industry 


and self-culture embodied in stone, one of the 
most beautiful and appropriate memorials ever 
erected to literary genius. 

John Gibson was another artist full of a genuine 
enthusiasm and love for his art, which placed him 
high above those sordid temptations which urge 
meaner natures to make time the measure of profit. 
He was born at Gyffn, near Conway, in North 
Wales the son of a gardener. He early showed 
indications of his talent by the carvings in wood 
which he made by means of a common pocket 
knife; and his father, noting the direction of his 
talent, sent him to Liverpool and bound him 
apprentice to a cabinet-maker and wood-carver. 
He rapidly improved at his trade, and some of his 
carvings were much admired. He was thus 
naturally led to sculpture, and when eighteen years 
old he modelled a small figure of Time in wax, 
which attracted considerable notice. The Messrs. 
Franceys, sculptors, of Liverpool, having purchased 
the boy's indentures, took him as their apprentice 
for six years, during which his genius displayed 
itself in many original works. From thence he 
proceeded to London, and afterwards to Rome ; 
and his fame became European. 

Robert Thorburn, the Royal Academician, like 
John Gibson, was born of poor parents. His 
father was a shoemaker at Dumfries. Besides 
Robert there were two other sons ; one of whom 
is a skilful carver in wood. One day a lady called 
at the shoemaker's and found Robert, then a mere 
boy, engaged in drawing upon a stool which served 
him for a table. She examined his work, and, 
observing -his abilities, interested herself in ob- 
taining for him some employment in drawing, and 


enlisted in his behalf the services of others who 
could assist him in prosecuting the study of art. 
The boy was diligent, painstaking, staid, and silent, 
mixing little with his companions, and forming 
but few intimacies. About the year 1830, some 
gentlemen of the town provided him with the 
means of proceeding to Edinburgh, where he was 
admitted a student at the Scottish Academy. There 
he had the advantage of studying under competent 
masters, and the progress which he made was rapid. 
From Edinburgh he removed to London, where, 
we understand, he had the advantage of being in- 
troduced to notice under the patronage of the Duke 
of Buccleuch. We need scarcely say, however, 
that of whatever use patronage may have been to 
Thorburn in giving him an introduction to the 
best circles, patronage of no kind could have made 
him the great artist that he unquestionably is, 
without native genius and diligent application. 

Noel Paton, the well-known painter, began 
his artistic career at Dunfermline and Paisley, as 
a drawer of patterns for table-cloths and muslin 
embroidered by hand : meanwhile working dili- 
gently at higher subjects, including the drawing 
of the human figure. He was, like Turner, ready 
to turn his hand to any kind of work, and in 1840, 
when a mere youth, we find him engaged, among 
his other labours, in illustrating the ' Renfrewshire 
Annual.' He worked his way step by step, slowly 
yet surely; but he remained unknown until the 
exhibition of the prize cartoons painted for the 
houses of Parliament, when his picture of the 
1 Spirit of Religion ' (for which he obtained one of 
the first prizes) revealed him to the world as a 
genuine artist ; and the works which he has since 


exhibited such as the ' Reconciliation of Oberon 
and Titania,' 'Home,' and 'The Bluidy Tryste* 
have shown a steady advance in artistic power 
and culture. 

Another striking exemplification of perseverance 
and industry in the cultivation of art in humble life 
is presented in the career of James Sharpies, a 
working blacksmith at Blackburn. He was born 
at Wakefield in Yorkshire, in 1825, one of a family 
of thirteen children. His father was a working 
ironfounder, and removed to Bury to follow his 
business. The boys received no school education, 
but were all sent to work as soon as they were 
able; and at about ten James was placed in a 
foundry, where he was employed for about two 
years as smithy-boy. After that he was sent into 
the engine-shop where his father worked as engine- 
smith. The boy's employment was to heat and 
carry rivets for the boiler-makers. Though his 
hours of labour were very long often from six 
in the morning until eight at night his father 
contrived to give him some little teaching after 
working hours ; and it was thus that he partially 
learned his letters. An incident occurred in the 
course of his employment among the boiler-makers 
which first awakened in him the desire to learn 
drawing. He had occasionally been employed by 
the foreman to hold the chalked line with which he 
made the designs of boilers upon the floor of the 
workshop ; and on such occasions the foreman was 
accustomed to hold the line, and direct the boy 
to make the necessary dimensions. James soon 
became so expert at this as to be of considerable 
service to the foreman ; and in his leisure hours 
at home his great delight was to practise drawing 


designs of boilers upon his mother's floor. On 
one occasion, when a female relative was expected 
from Manchester to pay the family a visit, and 
the house had been made as decent as possible for 
her reception, the boy, on coming in from the 
foundry in the evening, began his usual operations 
upon the floor. He had proceeded some way with 
his design of a large boiler in chalk, when his 
mother arrived with the visitor, and to her dismay 
found the boy unwashed and the floor chalked all 
over. The relative, however, professed to be 
pleased with the boy's industry, praised his design, 
and recommended his mother to provide " the little 
sweep," as she called him, with paper and pencils. 

Encouraged by his elder brother, he began to 
practise figure and landscape drawing, making 
copies of lithographs, but as yet without any know- 
ledge of the rules of perspective and the principles 
of light and shade. He worked on, however, and 
gradually acquired expertness in copying. At 
sixteen he entered the Bury Mechanics' Institution 
in order to attend the drawing class, taught by an 
amateur who followed the trade of a barber. 
There he had a lesson a week during three months. 
The teacher recommended him to obtain from the 
library Burnet's ' Practical Treatise on Painting ' ; 
but as he could not yet read with ease, he was 
under the necessity of getting his mother, and 
sometimes his elder brother, to read passages from 
the book for him while he sat by and listened. 
Feeling hampered by his ignorance of the art of 
reading, and eager to master the contents of 
Burnet's book, he ceased attending the drawing 
class at the Institute after the first quarter, and 
devoted himself to learning reading and writing 


at home. In this he soon succeeded ; and when 
he again entered the Institute and took out 
1 Burnet ' a second time, he was not only able to 
read it, but to make written extracts for further 
use. So ardently did he study the volume, that he 
used to rise at four o'clock in the morning to read 
it and copy out passages ; after which he went to 
the foundry at six, worked until six and sometimes 
eight in the evening, and returned home to enter 
with fresh zest upon the study of Burnet, which he 
continued often until a late hour. Parts of his 
nights were also occupied in drawing and making 
copies of drawings. On one of these a copy of 
Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' he spent an 
entire night. He went to bed indeed, but his mind 
was so engrossed with the subject that he could 
not sleep, and rose again to resume his pencil. 

He next proceeded to try his hand at painting 
in oil, for which purpose he procured some canvas 
from a draper, stretched it on a frame, coated it 
over with white lead, and began painting on it with 
colours bought from a house-painter. But his 
work proved a total failure ; for the canvas was 
rough and knotty, and the paint would not dry. 
In his extremity he applied to his old teacher, the 
barber, from whom he first learnt that prepared 
canvas was to be had, and that there were colours 
and varnishes made for the special purpose of oil- 
painting. As soon, therefore, as his means would 
allow, he bought a small stock of the necessary 
articles and began afresh, his amateur master 
showing him how to paint ; and the pupil succeeded 
so well that he excelled the master's copy. His 
first picture was a copy from an engraving called 
' Sheep-shearing,' and was afterwards sold by him 


for half-a-crown. Aided by a shilling ' Guide to Oil- 
painting,' he went on working in his leisure hours, 
and gradually acquired a better knowledge of his 
materials. He made his own easel and palette, 
palette-knife, and paint-chest ; he bought his paint, 
brushes, and canvas, as he could raise the money 
by working over-time. This was the slender fund 
which his parents consented to allow him for the 
purpose ; the burden of supporting a very large 
family precluding them from doing more. Often he 
would walk to Manchester and back in the evenings 
to buy two or three shillings' worth of paint and 
canvas, returning almost at midnight, after his 
eighteen miles' walk, sometimes wet through and 
completely exhausted, but borne up throughout by 
his inexhaustible hope and invincible determination. 
The further progress of the self-taught artist is best 
narrated in his own words, as communicated by 
him in a letter to the author: 

"The next pictures I painted," he says, "were 
a ' Landscape by Moonlight,' a ' Fruitpiece,' and one 
or two others ; after which I conceived the idea of 
painting ' The Forge.' I had for some time thought 
about it, but had not attempted to embody the con- 
ception in a drawing. I now, however, made a 
sketch of the subject upon paper, and then pro- 
ceeded to paint it on canvas. The picture simply 
represents the interior of a large workshop such 
as I have been accustomed to work in, although 
not of any particular shop. It is, therefore, to this 
extent, an original conception. Having made an 
outline of the subject, I found that, before I could 
proceed with it successfully, a knowledge of 
anatomy was indispensable to enable me accurately 
to delineate the muscles of the figures. My brother 


Peter came to my assistance at this juncture, and 
kindly purchased for me Flaxman's 'Anatomical 
Studies,' a work altogether beyond my means at the 
time, for it cost twenty-four shillings. This book I 
looked upon as a great treasure, and I studied it 
laboriously, rising at three o'clock in the morning 
to draw after it, and occasionally getting my 
brother Peter to stand for me as a model at that 
untimely hour. Although I gradually improved 
myself by this practice, it was some time before I 
felt sufficient confidence to go on with my picture. 
I also felt hampered by my want of knowledge of 
perspective, which I endeavoured to remedy by 
carefully studying Brook Taylor's ' Principles ' ; 
and shortly after I resumed my painting. While 
engaged in the study of perspective at home, I used 
to apply for and obtain leave to work at the heavier 
kinds of smith work at the foundry, and for this 
reason the time required for heating the heaviest 
iron work is so much longer than that required 
for heating the lighter, that it enabled me to secure 
a number of spare minutes in the course of the day, 
which I carefully employed in making diagrams in 
perspective upon the sheet iron casing in front of 
the hearth at which I worked." 

Thus assiduously working and studying, James 
Sharpies steadily advanced in his knowledge of the 
principles of art, and acquired greater facility in its 
practice. Some eighteen months after the expiry 
of his apprenticeship he painted a portrait of his 
father, which attracted considerable notice in the 
town ; as also did the picture of ' The Forge, 1 which 
he finished soon after. His success in portrait- 
painting obtained for him a commission from the 
foreman of the shop to paint a family group, and 


Sharpies executed it so well that the foreman not 
only paid him the agreed price of eighteen pounds, 
but thirty shillings to boot. While engaged on 
this group, he ceased to work at the foundry, and 
he had thoughts of giving up his trade altogether 
and devoting himself exclusively to painting. He 
proceeded to paint several pictures, amongst others 
a head of Christ, an original conception, life-size, 
and a view of Bury ; but not obtaining sufficient 
employment at portraits to occupy his time, or 
give him the prospect of a steady income, he had 
the good sense to resume his leather apron, and go 
on working at his honest trade of a blacksmith ; 
employing his leisure hours in engraving his 
picture of 'The Forge/ since published. He was 
induced to commence the engraving by the follow- 
ing circumstance. A Manchester picture-dealer, to 
whom he showed the painting, let drop the ob- 
servation, that in the hands of a skilful engraver it 
would make a very good print. Sharpies imme- 
diately conceived the idea of engraving it himself, 
though altogether ignorant of the art. The diffi- 
culties which he encountered and successfully over- 
came in carrying out his project are thus described 
by himself: 

" I had seen an advertisement of a Sheffield 
steel-plate maker, giving a list of the prices at 
which he supplied plates of various sizes, and, 
fixing upon one of suitable dimensions, I remitted 
the amount, together with a small additional sum 
for which I requested him to send me a few en- 
graving tools. I could not specify the articles 
wanted, for I did not then know anything about 
the process of engraving. However, there duly 
arrived with the plate three or four gravers and 


an etching needle ; the latter I spoiled before I 
knew its use. While working at the plate, the 
Amalgamated Society of Engineers offered a 
premium for the best design for an emblematical 
picture, for which I determined to compete, and 
I was so fortunate as to win the prize. Shortly 
after this I removed to Blackburn, where I obtained 
employment at Messrs. Yates', engineers, as an 
engine-smith ; and continued to employ my leisure 
time in drawing, painting, and engraving, as before 
With the engraving I made but very slow progress, 
owing to the difficulties I experienced from not 
possessing proper tools. I then determined to try 
to make some that would suit my purpose, and 
after several failures I succeeded in making many 
that I have used in the course of my engraving. 
I was also greatly at a loss for want of a proper 
magnifying glass, and part of the plate was executed 
with no other assistance of this sort than what my 
father's spectacles afforded, though I afterwards 
succeeded in obtaining a proper magnifier, which 
was of the utmost use to me. An incident occurred 
while I was engraving the plate which had almost 
caused me to abandon it altogether. It sometimes 
happened that I was obliged to lay it aside for a 
considerable time, when other work pressed; and 
in order to guard it against rust, I was accustomed 
to rub over the graven parts with oil. But on 
examining the plate after one of such intervals, 
I found that the oil had become a dark sticky sub- 
stance extremely difficult to get out. I tried to 
pick it out with a needle, but found that it would 
almost take as much time as to engrave the parts 
afresh. I was in great despair at this, but at length 
hit upon the expedient of boiling it in water con- 


taining soda, and afterwards rubbing the engraved 
parts with a tooth-brush ; and to my delight found 
the plan succeeded perfectly. My greatest diffi- 
culties now over, patience and perseverance were 
all that were needed to bring my labours to a 
successful issue. I had neither advice nor as- 
sistance from any one in finishing the plate. If, 
therefore, the work possess any merit, I can claim 
it as my own ; and if in its accomplishment I have 
contributed to show what can be done by persever- 
ing industry and determination, it is all the honour 
I wish to lay claim to." 

It would be beside our purpose to enter upon 
any criticism of 'The Forge' as an engraving, 
its merits having been already fully recognized by 
the art journals. The execution of the work occu- 
pied Sharples's leisure evening hours during a 
period of five years; and it was only when he 
took the plate to the printer that he for the first 
time saw an engraved plate produced by any other 
man. To this unvarnished picture of industry and 
genius we add one other trait, and it is a domestic 
one. " I have been married seven years," says he, 
" and during that time my greatest pleasure, after 
I had finished my daily labour at the foundry, has 
been to resume my pencil or graver, frequently 
until a late hour in the evening, my wife mean- 
while sitting by my side and reading to me from 
some interesting book," a simple but beautiful 
testimony to the thorough common sense as well 
as the genuine right-heartedness of this most inter- 
esting and deserving workman. 

The same industry and application which we 
have found to be necessary in order to acquire 
excellence in painting and sculpture are equally 


required in the sister art of music the one being 
the poetry of form and colour, the other of the 
sounds of nature. Handel was an indefatigable 
and constant worker ; he was never cast down by 
defeat, but his energy seemed to increase the more 
that adversity struck him. When a prey to his 
mortifications as an insolvent debtor, he did not 
give way for a moment, but in one year produced 
his ' Saul,' ' Israel,' the music for Dryden's ' Ode,' 
his 'Twelve Grand Concertos,' and the opera of 
'Jupiter in Argos,' among the finest of his works. 
As his biographer says of him, " He braved every- 
thing, and, by his unaided self, accomplished the 
work of twelve men." 

Haydn, speaking of his art, said, " It consists in 
taking up a subject and pursuing it." " Work," 
said Mozart, " is my chief pleasure." Beethoven's 
favourite maxim was, " The barriers are not erected 
which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 
'Thus far and no farther.'" When Moscheles 
submitted his score of ' Fidelio ' for the pianoforte 
to Beethoven, the latter found written at the bottom 
of the last page, " Finis, with God's help." Beet- 
hoven immediately wrote underneath, " O man ! 
help thyself!" This was the motto of his artistic 
life. John Sebastian Bach said of himself, " I was 
industrious ; whoever is equally sedulous, will be 
equally successful." But there is no doubt that 
Bach was born with a passion for music, which 
formed the mainspring of his industry, and was the 
true secret of his success. When a mere youth, his 
elder brother, wishing to turn his abilities in an- 
other direction, destroyed a collection of studies 
which the young Sebastian, being denied candles, 
had copied by moonlight ; proving the strong 


natural bent of the boy's genius. Of Meyerbeer, 
Bayle thus wrote from Milan in 1820: "He is a 
man of some talent, but no genius ; he lives solitary, 
working fifteen hours a day at music." Years 
passed, and Meyerbeer's hard work fully brought 
out his genius, as displayed in his ' Roberto,' 
4 Huguenots,' ' Prophete,' and other works, con- 
fessedly amongst the greatest operas which have 
been produced in modern times. 

Although musical composition is not an art in 
which Englishmen have as yet greatly distinguished 
themselves, their energies having for the most part 
taken other and more practical directions, we are 
not without native illustrations of the power of 
perseverance in this special pursuit. Arne was an 
upholsterer's son, intended by his father for the legal 
profession ; but his love of music was so great, 
that he could not be withheld from pursuing it. 
While engaged in an attorney's office, his means 
were very limited, but, to gratify his tastes, he was 
accustomed to borrow a livery and go into the 
gallery of the Opera, then appropriated to domestics. 
Unknown to his father he made great progress with 
the violin, and the first knowledge his father had 
of the circumstance was when accidentally calling 
at the house of a neighbouring gentleman, to his 
surprise and consternation he found his son playing 
the leading instrument with a party of musicians. 
This incident decided the fate of Arne. His father 
offered no further opposition to his wishes ; and 
the world thereby lost a lawyer, but gained a 
musician of much taste and delicacy of feeling, who 
added many valuable works to our stores of 
English music. 

The career of the late William Jackson, author 


of 'The Deliverance of Israel/ an oratorio which 
has been successfully performed in the principal 
towns of his native county of York, furnishes an 
interesting illustration of the triumph of per- 
severance over difficulties in the pursuit of musical 
science. He was the son of a miller at Masham, a 
little town situated in the valley of the Yore, in the 
north-west corner of Yorkshire. Musical taste 
seems to have been hereditary in the family, for 
his father played the fife in the band of the Masham 
Volunteers, and was a singer in the parish choir. 
His grandfather also was leading singer and ringer 
at Masham Church ; and one of the boy's earliest 
musical treats was to be present at the bell-pealing 
on Sunday mornings. During the service, his 
wonder was still more excited by the organist's 
performance on the barrel-organ, the doors of 
which were thrown open behind to let the sound 
fully into the church, by which the stops, pipes, 
barrels, staples, keyboard, and jacks were fully 
exposed, to the wonderment of the little boys sitting 
in the gallery behind, and to none more than our 
young musician. At eight years of age he began 
to play upon his father's old fife, which, however, 
would not sound D ; but his mother remedied the 
difficulty by buying for him a one-keyed flute ; and 
shortly after a gentleman presented him with a 
flute with four silver keys. As the boy made no 
progress with his " book learning," being fonder of 
cricket, fives, and boxing than of his school lessons 
the village schoolmaster giving him up as " a bad 
job" his parents sent him off to a school at Pateley 
Bridge. While there he found congenial society 
in a club of village choral singers at Brighouse 
Gate, and with them he learnt the sol-faing gamut 


on the old English plan. He was thus well drilled 
in the reading of music, in which he soon became 
a proficient. His progress astonished the club, and 
he returned home full of musical ambition. He 
now learnt to play upon his father's old piano, but 
with little melodious result ; and he became eager 
to possess a finger-organ, but had no means of 
procuring one. About this time a neighbouring 
parish clerk had purchased, for an insignificant 
sum, a small disabled barrel-organ, which had gone 
the circuit of the northern counties with a show. 
The clerk tried to revive the tones of the instrument, 
but failed ; at last he bethought him that he would 
try the skill of young Jackson, who had succeeded 
in making some alterations and improvements in 
the hand-organ of the parish church. He accordingly 
brought it to the lad's house in a donkey cart, and 
in a short time the instrument was repaired, and 
played over its old tunes again, greatly to the 
owner's satisfaction. 

The thought now haunted the youth that he 
could make a barrel-organ, and he determined to 
do so. His father and he set to work, and though 
without practice in carpentering, yet, by dint of 
hard labour and after many failures, they at last 
succeeded ; and an organ was constructed which 
played ten tunes very decently, and the instrument 
was generally regarded as a marvel in the neigh- 
bourhood. Young Jackson was now frequently sent 
for to repair old church organs, and to put new 
music upon the barrels which he added to them. 
All this he accomplished to the satisfaction of his 
employers, after which he proceeded with the con- 
struction of a four-stop finger-organ, adapting to it 
the keys of an old harpsichord. This he learnt 


to play upon, studying ' Callcott's Thorough Bass ' 
in the evening, and working at his trade of a miller 
during the day; occasionally also tramping about 
the country as a " cadger," with an ass and a cart. 
During summer he worked in the fields, at turnip- 
time, hay-time, and harvest, but was never without 
the solace of music in his leisure evening hours. 
He next tried his hand at musical composition, 
and twelve of his anthems were shown to the late 
Mr. Camidge, of York, as " the production of a 
miller's lad of fourteen." Mr. Camidge was pleased 
with them, marked the objectionable passages, and 
returned them with the encouraging remark, that 
they did the youth great credit, and that he must 
" go on writing." 

A village band having been set on foot at Masham, 
young Jackson joined it, and was ultimately ap- 
pointed leader. He played all the instruments by 
turns, and thus acquired a considerable practical 
knowledge of his art : he also composed numerous 
tunes for the band. A new finger-organ having 
been presented to the parish church he was ap- 
pointed the organist. He now gave up his em- 
ployment as a journeyman miller, and commenced 
tallow-chandling, still employing his spare hours 
in the study of music. In 1839 ne published his 
first anthem ' For joy let fertile valleys sing ' ; and 
in the following year he gained the first prize from 
the Huddersfield Glee Club, for his ' Sisters of the 
Lea.' His other anthem, 'God be merciful to us,' 
and the io3rd Psalm, written for a double chorus 
and orchestra, are well known. In the midst of 
these minor works, Jackson proceeded with the 
composition of his oratorio, 'The Deliverance of 
Israel from Babylon.' His practice was, to jot 


down a sketch of the ideas as they presented them- 
selves to his mind, and to write them out in score 
in the evenings, after he had left his work in the 
candle-shop. His oratorio was published in parts 
in the course of 1844-5, an ^ he published the last 
chorus on his twenty-ninth birthday. The work 
was exceedingly well received, and has been 
frequently performed with much success in the 
northern towns. Mr. Jackson eventually settled 
as a professor of music at Bradford, where he con- 
tributed in no small degree to the cultivation of 
the musical taste of that town and its neighbour- 
hood. Some years since he had the honour of 
leading his fine company of Bradford choral singers 
before Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace ; on 
which occasion, as well as at the Crystal Palace, 
some choral pieces of his composition were per- 
formed with great effect* 

Such is a brief outline of the career of a self- 
taught musician, whose life affords but another 
illustration of the power of self-help, and the force 
of courage and industry in enabling a man to 
surmount and overcome early difficulties and 
obstructions of no ordinary kind. 

* While the sheets of this revised edition are passing through 
the press, the announcement appears in the local papers of the 
death of Mr. Jackson at the age of fifty. His last work, completed 
shortly before his death, was a cantata, entitled 'The Praise of 
Music.' The above particulars of his early life were communicated 
by himself to the author several years since, while he was still 
carrying on his business of a tallow-chandler at Masham. 



"He either fears his fate too much, 

Or his deserts are small, 
That dares not put it to the touch, 

To gain or lose it all." Marquis of Montrose. 

"He hath put down the mighty from their seats; and exalted them 
of low degree." St. Luke. 

WE have already referred to some illustrious 
Commoners raised from humble to elevated 
positions by the power of application and 
industry ; and we might point to even the Peerage 
itself as affording equally instructive examples. 
One reason why the Peerage of England has suc- 
ceeded so well in holding its own arises from 
the fact that, unlike the peerages of other countries, 
it has been fed, from time to time, by the best 
industrial blood of the country the very "liver, 
heart, and brain of Britain." Like the fabled 
Antaeus, it has been invigorated and refreshed by 
touching its mother earth, and mingling with that 
most ancient order of nobility the working order. 

The blood of all men flows from equally remote 
sources ; and though some are unable to trace their 
line directly beyond their grandfathers, all are 
nevertheless justified in placing at the head of their 
pedigree the great progenitors of the race, as Lord 



Chesterfield did when he wrote, " ADAM de Stanhope 
EVE de Stanhope!' No class is ever long sta- 
tionary. The mighty fall, and the humble are 
exalted. New families take the place of the old, 
who disappear among the ranks of the common 
people. Burke's ' Vicissitudes of Families ' strikingly 
exhibits this rise and fall of families, and shows that 
the misfortunes which overtake the rich and noble 
are greater in proportion than those which over- 
whelm the poor. This author points out that of 
the twenty-five barons selected to enforce the ob- 
servance of Magna Charta, there is not now in the 
House of Peers a single male descendant. Civil 
wars and rebellions ruined many of the old nobility 
and dispersed their families. Yet their descendants 
in many cases survive, and are to be found among 
the ranks of the people. Fuller wrote in his 
' Worthies,' that " some who justly hold the sur- 
names of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets, are 
hid in the heap of common men." Thus Burke 
shows Jthat two of the lineal descendants of the 
Earl of Kent, sixth son of Edward L, were dis- 
covered in a butcher and a toll-gatherer ; that the 
great grandson of Margaret Plantagenet, daughter 
of the Duke of Clarence, sank to the condition of a 
cobbler at Newport, in Shropshire ; and that among 
the lineal descendants of the Duke of Gloucester, 
son of Edward III., was the late sexton of St. 
George's, Hanover Square. It is understood that 
the lineal descendant of Simon de Montfort, 
England's premier baron, is a saddler in Tooley 
Street. One of the descendants of the " Proud 
Percys," a claimant of the title of Duke of North- 
umberland, was a Dublin trunk-maker; and not 
many years since one of the claimants for the title 


of Earl of Perth presented himself in the person 
of a labourer in a Northumberland coal-pit. Hugh 
Miller, when working as a stone-mason near 
Edinburgh, was served by a hodman who was one 
of the numerous claimants for the earldom of 
Crauford all that was wanted to establish his 
claim being a missing marriage certificate; and 
while the work was going on, the cry resounded 
from the walls many times in the day of " John, 
Yearl Crauford, bring us anither hod o' lime." 
One of Oliver Cromwell's great grandsons was a 
grocer on Snow Hill, and others of his descendants 
died in great poverty. Many barons of proud 
names and titles have perished, like the sloth, upon 
their family tree, after eating up all the leaves; 
while others have been overtaken by adversities 
which they have been unable to retrieve, and sunk 
at last into poverty and obscurity Such are the 
mutabilities of rank and fortune. 

The great bulk of our peerage is comparatively 
modern, so far as the titles go ; but it is not the less 
noble that it has been recruited to so large an 
extent from the ranks of honourable industry. In 
olden times, the wealth and commerce of London, 
conducted as it was by energetic and enterprising 
men, was a prolific source of peerages. Thus, the 
earldom of Cornwallis was founded by Thomas 
Cornwallis, the Cheapside merchant ; that of Essex 
by William Capel, the draper ; and that of Craven 
by William Craven, the merchant tailor. The 
modern Earl of Warwick is not descended from 
the " King-maker," but from William Greville, the 
woolstapler; whilst the modern dukes of North- 
umberland find their head, not in the Percys, 
but in Hugh Smithson, a respectable London 


apothecary. The founders of the families of Dart- 
mouth, Radnor, Ducie, and Pomfret were respec- 
tively a skinner, a silk manufacturer, a merchant 
tailor, and a Calais merchant ; whilst the founders of 
the peerages of Tankerville, Dormer, and Coventry 
were mercers. The ancestors of Earl Romney, and 
Lord Dudley and Ward, were goldsmiths and 
jewellers ; and Lord Dacre's was a banker in the 
reign of Charles I., as Lord Overstone is in that 
of Queen Victoria. Edward Osborne, the founder 
of the Dukedom of Leeds, was apprentice to 
William Hewet, a rich clothworker on London 
Bridge, whose only daughter he courageously 
rescued from drowning, by leaping into the Thames 
after her, and eventually married. Among other 
peerages founded by trade are those of Fitzwilliam, 
Leigh, Petre, Cowper, Darnley, Hill, and Carrington. 
The founders of the houses of Foley and Normanby 
were remarkable men in many respects, and, as 
furnishing striking examples of energy of character, 
the story of their lives is worthy of preservation. 

The father of Richard Foley, the founder of the 
family, was a small yeoman living in the neighbour- 
hood of Stourbridge in the time of Charles I. That 
place was then the centre of the iron manufacture 
of the Midland districts, and Richard was brought 
up to work at one of the branches of the trade 
that of nail-making. He was thus a daily observer 
of the great labour and loss of time caused by 
the clumsy process then adopted for dividing the 
rods of iron in the manufacture of nails. It appeared 
that the Stourbridge nailers were gradually losing 
their trade in consequence of the importation of 
nails from Sweden, by which they were undersold 
in the market. It became known that the Swedes 



were enabled to make their nails so much cheaper 
by the use of splitting mills and machinery, which 
had completely superseded the laborious process 
of preparing the rods for nail-making then practised 
in England. 

Richard Foley, having ascertained this much, 
determined to make himself master of the process. 
He suddenly disappeared from the neighbourhood 
of Stourbridge, and was not heard of for several 
years. No one knew whither he had gone, not even 
his own family ; for he had not informed them 
of his intention, lest he should fail. He had little 
or no money in his pocket, but contrived to get 
to Hull, where he engaged himself on board a ship 
bound for a Swedish port, and worked his passage 
there. The only article of property which he 
possessed was his fiddle, and on landing in Sweden 
he begged and fiddled his way to the Dannemora 
mines, near Upsala. He was a capital musician, 
as well as a pleasant fellow, and soon ingratiated 
himself with the iron-workers. He was received 
into the works, to every part of which he had access ; 
and he seized the opportunity thus afforded him of 
storing his mind with observations, and mastering, 
as he thought, the mechanism of iron splitting. 
After a continued stay for this purpose, he suddenly 
disappeared from amongst his kind friends the 
miners no one knew whither. 

Returned to England, he communicated the 
results of his voyage to Mr. Knight and another 
person at Stourbridge, who had sufficient confidence 
in him to advance the requisite funds for the purpose 
of erecting buildings and machinery for splitting 
iron by the new process. But when set to work, 
to the great vexation and disappointment of all, and 


especially of Richard Foley, it was found that the 
machinery would not act at all events, it would 
not split the bars of iron. Again Foley disappeared. 
It was thought that shame and mortification at his 
failure had driven him away for ever. Not so ! 
Foley had determined to master this secret of iron- 
splitting, and he would yet do it. He had again 
set out for Sweden, accompanied by his fiddle as 
before, and found his way to the iron works, where 
he was joyfully welcomed by the miners ; and, to 
make sure of their fiddler, they this time lodged him 
in the very splitting-mill itself. There was such an 
apparent absence of intelligence about the man, 
except in fiddle-playing, that the miners entertained 
no suspicions as to the object of their minstrel, 
whom they thus enabled to attain the very end 
and aim of his life. He now carefully examined 
the works, and soon discovered the cause of his 
failure. He made drawings or tracings of the 
machinery as well as he could, though this was a 
branch of art quite new to him ; and after remaining 
at the place long enough to enable him to verify 
his observations, and to impress the mechanical 
arrangements clearly and vividly on his mind, he 
again left the miners, reached a Swedish port, and 
took ship for England. A man of such purpose 
could not but succeed. Arrived amongst his sur- 
prised friends, he now completed his arrangements, 
and the results were entirely successful. By his 
skill and his industry he soon laid the foundations 
of a large fortune, at the same time that he restored 
the business of an extensive district. He himself 
continued, during his life, to carry on his trade, 
aiding and encouraging all works of benevolence 
in his neighbourhood. He founded and endowed a 


school at Stourbridge ; and his son Thomas (a 
great benefactor of Kidderminster), who was High 
Sheriff of Worcestershire in the time of " The 
Rump," founded and endowed an hospital, still in 
existence, for the free education of children at Old 
Swinford. All the early Foleys were Puritans. 
Richard Baxter seems to have been on familiar and 
intimate terms with various members of the family, 
and makes frequent mention of them in his * Life 
and Times.' Thomas Foley, when appointed High 
Sheriff of the county, requested Baxter to preach 
the customary sermon before him ; and Baxter in 
his ' Life ' speaks of him as " of so just and blame- 
less dealing, that all men he ever had to do with 
magnified his great integrity and honesty, which 
were questioned by none." The family was en- 
nobled in the reign of Charles the Second. 

William Phipps, the founder of the Mulgrave or 
Normanby family, was a man quite as remarkable 
in his way as Richard Foley. His father was a 
gunsmith a robust Englishman settled at Wool- 
wich, in Maine, then forming part of our English 
colonies in America. He was born in 1651, one of 
a family of not fewer than twenty-six children (of 
whom twenty-one were sons), whose only fortune 
lay in their stout hearts and strong arms. William 
seems to have had a dash of the Danish sea-blood 
in his veins, and did not take kindly to the quiet 
life of a shepherd in which he spent his early years. 
By nature bold and adventurous, he longed to 
become a sailor and roam through the world. He 
sought to join some ship ; but not being able to find 
one, he apprenticed himself to a shipbuilder, with 
whom he thoroughly learnt his trade, acquiring 
the arts of reading and writing during his leisure 


hours. Having completed his apprenticeship and 
removed to Boston, he wooed and married a widow 
of some means, after which he set up a little ship- 
building yard of his own, built a ship, and, putting 
to sea in her, he engaged in the lumber trade, 
which he carried on in a plodding and laborious 
way for the space of about ten years. 

It happened that one day, whilst passing through 
the crooked streets of old Boston, he overheard 
some sailors talking to each other of a wreck which 
had just taken place off the Bahamas ; that of a 
Spanish ship, supposed to have much money on 
board. His adventurous spirit was at once kindled, 
and getting together a likely crew without loss of 
time, he set sail for the Bahamas. The wreck 
being well in-shore, he easily found it, and suc- 
ceeded in recovering a great deal of its cargo, but 
very little money; and the result was, that he 
barely defrayed his expenses. His success had 
been such, however, as to stimulate his enterprising 
spirit ; and when he was told of another and far 
more richly laden vessel which had been wrecked 
near Port de la Plata more than half a century 
before, he forthwith formed the resolution of raising 
the wreck, or at all events of fishing up the 

Being too poor, however, to undertake such an 
enterprise without powerful help, he set sail for 
England in the hope that he might there obtain 
it. The fame of his success in raising the wreck 
off the Bahamas had already preceded him. He 
applied direct to the Government. By his urgent 
enthusiasm, he succeeded in overcoming the usual 
inertia of official minds ; and Charles II. eventually 
placed at his disposal the ' Rose Algier,' a ship of 


eighteen guns and ninety-five men, appointing him 
to the chief command. 

Phipps then set sail to find the Spanish ship and 
fish up the treasure. He reached the coast of 
Hispaniola in safety; but how to find the sunken 
ship was the great difficulty. The fact of the 
wreck was more than fifty years old ; and Phipps 
had only the traditionary rumours of the event 
to work upon. There was a wide coast to explore, 
and an outspread ocean without any trace whatever 
of the argosy which lay somewhere at its bottom. 
But the man was stout in heart and full of hope. 
He set his seamen to work to drag along the coast, 
and for weeks they went on fishing up sea-weed, 
shingle, and bits of rock. No occupation could be 
more trying to seamen, and they began to grumble 
one to another, and to whisper that the man in 
command had brought them on a fool's errand. 

At length the murmurers gained head, and the 
men broke into open mutiny. A body of them 
rushed one day on to the quarter-deck, and de- 
manded that the voyage should be relinquished. 
Phipps, however, was not a man to be intimidated ; 
he seized the ringleaders, and sent the others back 
to their duty. It became necessary to bring the 
ship to anchor close to a small island for the 
purpose of repairs ; and, to lighten her, the chief 
part of the stores was landed. Discontent still 
increasing amongst the crew, a new plot was laid 
amongst the men on shore to seize the ship, throw 
Phipps overboard, and start on a piratical cruise 
against the Spaniards in the South Seas. But it 
was necessary to secure the services of the chief 
ship carpenter, who was consequently made privy 
to the plot. This man proved faithful, and at once 


told the captain of his danger. Summoning about 
him those whom he knew to be loyal, Phipps had 
the ship's guns loaded which commanded the shore, 
and ordered the bridge communicating with the 
vessel to be drawn up. When the mutineers made 
their appearance, the captain hailed them, and told 
the men he would fire upon them if they approached 
the stores (still on land), when they drew back; 
on which Phipps had the stores reshipped under 
cover of his guns. The mutineers, fearful of being 
left upon the barren island, threw down their arms 
and implored to be permitted to return to their 
duty. The request was granted, and suitable 
precautions were taken against future mischief. 
Phipps, however, took the first opportunity of 
landing the mutinous part of the crew, and en- 
gaging other men in their places ; but, by the time 
that he could again proceed actively with his ex- 
plorations, he found it absolutely necessary to 
proceed to England for the purpose of repairing 
the ship. He had now, however, gained more 
precise information as to the spot where the Spanisfi 
treasure ship had sunk ; and, though as yet baffled, 
he was more confident than ever of the eventual 
success of his enterprise. 

Returned to London, Phipps reported the result 
of his voyage to the Admiralty, who professed to 
be pleased with his exertions ; but he had been 
unsuccessful, and they would not entrust him with 
another king's ship. James II. was now on the 
throne, and the Government was in trouble; so 
Phipps and his golden project appealed to them 
in vain. He next tried to raise the requisite means 
by a public subscription. At first he was laughed 
at; but his ceaseless importunity at length prevailed, 


and after four years' dinning of his project into 
the ears of the great and influential during which 
time he lived in poverty he at length succeeded. 
A company was formed in twenty shares, the 
Duke of Albemarle, son of General Monk, taking 
the chief interest in it, and subscribing the principal 
part of the necessary fund for the prosecution of 
the enterprise. 

Like Foley, Phipps proved more fortunate in his 
second voyage than in his first. The ship arrived 
without accident at Port de la Plata, in the neigh- 
bourhood of the reef of rocks supposed to have 
been the scene of the wreck. His first object was 
to build a stout boat capable of carrying eight 
or ten oars, in constructing which Phipps used the 
adze himself. It is also said that he constructed a 
machine for the purpose of exploring the bottom 
of the sea similar to what is now known as the 
diving bell. Such a machine was found referred 
to in books, but Phipps knew little of books, and 
may be said to have re-invented the apparatus 
for his own use. He also engaged Indian divers, 
whose feats of diving for pearls, and in submarine 
operations, were very remarkable. The tender and 
boat having been taken to the reef, the men were 
set to work, the diving bell was sunk, and the 
various modes of dragging the bottom of the sea 
were employed continuously for many weeks, but 
without any prospect of success. Phipps, however, 
held on valiantly, hoping almost against hope. At 
length, one day, a sailor, looking over the boat's 
side down into the clear water, observed a curious 
sea-plant growing in what appeared to be a crevice 
of the rock; and he called upon an Indian diver to go 
down and fetch it for him. On the red man coming 


up with the weed, he reported that a number of 
ship's guns were lying in the same place. The 
intelligence was at first received with incredulity, 
but on further investigation it proved to be correct. 
Search was made, and presently a diver came up 
with a solid bar of silver in his arms. When 
Phipps was shown it, he exclaimed, "Thanks be 
to God ! we are all made men." Diving bell and 
divers now went to work with a will, and in a 
few days treasure was brought up to the value 
of about 300,000, with which Phipps set sail for 
England. On his arrival, it was urged upon the 
king that he should seize the ship and its cargo, 
under the pretence that Phipps, when soliciting 
his Majesty's permission, had not given accurate 
information respecting the business. But the king 
replied, that he knew Phipps to be an honest man, 
and that he and his friends should divide the whole 
treasure amongst them, even though he had re- 
turned with double the value. Phipps's share was 
about 20,000, and the king, to show his approval 
of his energy and honesty in conducting the enter- 
prise, conferred upon him the honour of knighthood. 
He was also made High Sheriff of New England ; 
and during the time he held the office, he did 
valiant service for the mother country and the 
colonists against the French, by expeditions against 
Port Royal and Quebec. He also held the post 
of Governor of Massachusetts, from which he 
returned to England, and died in London in 1695. 

Phipps, throughout the latter part of his career, 
was not ashamed to allude to the lowness of his 
origin, and it was matter of honest pride to him 
that he had risen from the condition of common 
ship carpenter to the honours of knighthood and 


the government of a province. When perplexed 
with public business, he would often declare that 
it would be easier for him to go back to his broad 
axe again. He left behind him a character for 
probity, honesty, patriotism, and courage, which 
is certainly not the least noble inheritance of the 
house of Normanby. 

William Petty, the founder of the house of 
Lansdowne, was a man of like energy and public 
usefulness in his day. He was the son of a clothier 
in humble circumstances, at Romsey, in Hampshire, 
where he was born in 1623. In his boyhood he 
obtained a tolerable education at the grammar 
school of his native town ; after which he determined 
to improve himself by study at the University of 
Caen, in Normandy. Whilst there he contrived 
to support himself unassisted by his father, carrying 
on a sort of small pedler's trade with " a little 
stock of merchandise." Returning to England, he 
had himself bound apprentice to a sea captain, who 
"drubbed him with a rope's end" for the badness 
of his sight. He left the navy in disgust, taking to 
the study of medicine. When at Paris he engaged 
in dissection, during which time he also drew 
diagrams for Hobbes, who was then writing his 
treatise on Optics. He was reduced to such poverty 
that he subsisted for two or three weeks entirely 
on walnuts. But again he began to trade in a 
small way, turning an honest penny, and he was 
enabled shortly to return to England with money 
in his pocket. Being of an ingenious mechanical 
turn, we find him taking out a patent for a letter- 
copying machine. He began to write upon the 
arts and sciences, and practised chemistry and 
physic with such success that his reputation shortly 


became considerable. Associating with men of 
science, the project of forming a Society for its 
prosecution was discussed, and the first meetings 
of the infant Royal Society were held at his 
lodgings. At Oxford he acted for a time as deputy 
to the anatomical professor there, who had a great 
repugnance to dissection. In 1652 his industry was 
rewarded by the appointment of physician to the 
army in Ireland, whither he went; and whilst there 
he was the medical attendant of three successive 
lords-lieutenant, Lambert, Fleetwood, and Henry 
Cromwell. Large grants of forfeited land having 
been awarded to the Puritan soldiery, Petty ob- 
served that the lands were very inaccurately 
measured ; and in the midst of his many avocations 
he undertook to do the work himself. His ap- 
pointments became so numerous and lucrative that 
he was charged by the envious with corruption, 
and removed from them all ; but he was again 
taken into favour at the Restoration. 

Petty was a most indefatigable contriver, in- 
ventor, and organizer of industry. One of his 
inventions was a double-bottomed ship, to sail 
against wind and tide. He published treatises on 
dyeing, on naval philosophy, on woollen cloth 
manufacture, on political arithmetic, and many 
other subjects. He founded iron works, opened 
lead mines, and commenced a pilchard fishery and 
a timber trade ; in the midst of which he found 
time to take part in the discussions of the Royal 
Society, to which he largely contributed. He left 
an ample fortune to his sons, the eldest of whom 
was created Baron Shelburne. His will was a 
curious document, singularly illustrative of his 
character ; containing a detail of the principal 


events of his life, and the gradual advancement of 
his fortune. His sentiments on pauperism are 
characteristic : " As for legacies for the poor," said 
he, " I am at a stand ; as for beggars by trade and 
election, I give them nothing ; as for impotents by 
the hand of God, the public ought to maintain 
them; as for those who have been bred to no 
calling nor estate, they should be put upon their 
kindred ; . . . wherefore I am contented that I 
have assisted all my poor relations, and put many 
into a way of getting their own bread ; have 
laboured in public works ; and by inventions have 
sought out real objects of charity ; and I do hereby 
conjure all who partake of my estate, from time to 
time, to do the same at their peril. Nevertheless 
to answer custom, and to take the surer side, I 
give 20/. to the most wanting of the parish wherein 
I die." He was interred in the fine old Norman 
church of Romsey the town wherein he was born 
a poor man's son and on the south side of the 
choir is still to be seen a plain slab, with the in- 
scription, cut by an illiterate workman, " Here 
Layes Sir William Petty." 

Another family, ennobled by invention and 
trade in our own day, is that of Strutt of Helper. 
Their patent of nobility was virtually secured by 
Jedediah Strutt in 1758, when he invented his 
machine for making ribbed stockings, and thereby 
laid the foundations of a fortune which the subse- 
quent bearers of the name have largely increased 
and nobly employed. The father of Jedediah was 
a farmer and maltster, who did but little for the 
education of his children ; yet they all prospered. 
Jedediah was the second son, and when a boy as- 
sisted his father in the work of the farm. At an 


early age he exhibited a taste for mechanics, and 
introduced several improvements in the rude 
agricultural implements of the period. On the 
death of his uncle he succeeded to a farm at Black- 
wall, near Normanton, long in the tenancy of the 
family, and shortly after he married Miss Wollatt, 
the daughter of a Derby hosier. Having learned 
from his wife's brother that various unsuccessful 
attempts had been made to manufacture ribbed 
stockings, he proceeded to study the subject with a 
view to effect what others had failed in accomplish- 
ing. He accordingly obtained a stocking-frame, 
and after mastering its construction and mode of 
action, he proceeded to introduce new combinations, 
by means of which he succeeded in effecting a 
variation in the plain looped-work of the frame, and 
was thereby enabled to turn out " ribbed " hosiery. 
Having secured a patent for the improved machine, 
he removed to Derby, and there entered largely 
on the manufacture of ribbed stockings, in which 
he was very successful. He afterwards joined 
Arkwright, of the merits of whose invention he 
fully satisfied himself, and found the means of 
securing his patent, as well as erecting a large 
cotton-mill at Cranford, in Derbyshire. After the 
expiry of the partnership with Arkwright, the 
Strutts erected extensive cotton-mills at Milford, 
near Belper, which worthily gives its title to the 
present head of the family. The sons of the 
founder were, like their father, distinguished for 
their mechanical ability. Thus William Strutt, the 
eldest, is said to have invented a self-acting mule, 
the success of which was only prevented by the 
mechanical skill of that day being unequal to its 
manufacture. Edward, the son of William, was a 


man of eminent mechanical genius, having early 
discovered the principle of suspension-wheels for 
carriages : he had a wheelbarrow and two carts 
made on the principle, which were used on his 
farm near Helper. It may be added that the Strutts 
have throughout been distinguished for their noble 
employment of the wealth which their industry and 
skill have brought them ; that they have sought in 
all ways to improve the moral and social condition 
of the work-people in their employment ; and that 
they have been liberal donors in every good cause 
of which the presentation, by Mr. Joseph Strutt, 
of the beautiful park or Arboretum at Derby, as 
a gift to the townspeople for ever, affords only 
one of many illustrations. The concluding words 
of the short address which he delivered on pre- 
senting this valuable gift are worthy of being 
quoted and remembered: "As the sun has shone 
brightly on me through life, it would be ungrateful 
in me not to employ a portion of the fortune I 
possess in promoting the welfare of those amongst 
whom I live, and by whose industry I have been 
aided in its organization." 

No less industry and energy have been displayed 
by the many brave men, both in present and past 
times, who have earned the peerage by their valour 
on land and at sea. Not to mention the older 
feudal lords, whose tenure depended upon military 
service, and who so often led the van of the English 
armies in great national encounters, we may point 
to Nelson, St. Vincent, and Lyons to Wellington, 
Hill, Hardinge, Clyde, and many more in recent 
times, who have nobly earned their rank by their 
distinguished services. But plodding industry has 
far oftener worked its way to the peerage by the 


honourable pursuit of the legal profession than by 
any other. No fewer than seventy British peerages, 
including two dukedoms, have been founded by 
successful lawyers. Mansfield and Erskine were, 
it is true, of noble family; but the latter used to 
thank God that out of his own family he did not 
know a lord.* The others were, for the most part, 
the sons of attorneys, grocers, clergymen, mer- 
chants, and hardworking members of the middle 
class. Out of this profession have sprung the 
peerages of Howard and Cavendish, the first peers 
of both families having been judges ; those of 
Aylesford, Ellenborough, Guildford, Shaftesbury, 
Hardwicke, Cardigan, Clarendon, Camden, Elles- 
mere, Rosslyn; and others nearer our own day, 
such as Tenterden, Eldon, Brougham, Denman, 
Truro, Lyndhurst, St. Leonards, Cranworth, Camp- 
bell, and Chelmsford. 

Lord Lyndhurst's father was a portrait painter, 
and that of St. Leonards a perfumer and hair- 
dresser in Burlington Street. Young Edward 
Sugden was originally an errand-boy in the office 
of the late Mr. Groom, of Henrietta Street, 
Cavendish Square, a certificated conveyancer ; and 
it was there that the future Lord Chancellor of 
Ireland obtained his first notions of law. The 
origin of the late Lord Tenterden was perhaps the 

* Mansfield owed nothing to his noble relations, who were poor 
and uninfluential. His success was the legitimate and logical result 
of the means which he sedulously employed to secure it. When a 
boy he rode up from Scotland to London on a pony taking two 
months to make the journey. After a course of school and college, 
he entered upon the profession of the law, and he closed a career 
of patient and ceaseless labour as Lord Chief Justice of England 
the functions of which he is universally admitted to have performed 
with unsurpassed ability, justice, and honour. 


humblest of all, nor was he ashamed of it ; for he 
felt that the industry, study, and application, by 
means of which he achieved his eminent position, 
were entirely due to himself. It is related of him, 
that on one occasion he took his son Charles to a 
little shed, then standing opposite the western front 
of Canterbury Cathedral, and, pointing it out to 
him, said, " Charles, you see this little shop ; I 
have brought you here on purpose to show it you. 
In that shop your grandfather used to shave for a 
penny : that is the proudest reflection of my life." 
When a boy, Lord Tenterden was a singer in the 
Cathedral, and it is a curious circumstance that his 
destination in life was changed by a disappoint- 
ment. When he and Mr. Justice Richards were 
going the Home Circuit together, they went to 
service in the Cathedral ; and on Richards com- 
mending the voice of a singing man in the choir, 
Lord Tenterden said, " Ah ! that is the only man 
I ever envied ! When at school in this town, we 
were candidates for a chorister's place, and he 
obtained it." 

Not less remarkable was the rise, to the same 
distinguished office of Lord Chief Justice, of the 
rugged Kenyon and the robust Ellenborough ; nor 
was he a less notable man who recently held the 
same office the astute Lord Campbell, late Lord 
Chancellor of England, son of a parish minister in 
Fifeshire. For many years he worked hard as a 
reporter for the press, while diligently preparing 
himself for the practice of his profession. It is said 
of him, that at the beginning of his career he was 
accustomed to walk from county town to county 
town when on circuit, being as yet too poor to 
afford the luxury of posting. But step by step he 


rose slowly but surely to that eminence and dis- 
tinction which ever follow a career of industry 
honourably and energetically pursued, in the legal, 
as in every other profession. 

There have been other illustrious instances of 
Lords Chancellors who have plodded up the steep 
of fame and honour with equal energy and success. 
The career of the late Lord Eldon is perhaps one 
of the most remarkable examples. He was the son 
of a Newcastle coal-fitter ; a mischievous rather 
than a studious boy ; a great scapegrace at school, 
and the subject of many terrible thrashings, for 
orchard-robbing was one of the favourite exploits 
of the future Lord Chancellor. His father first 
thought of putting him apprentice to a grocer, and 
afterwards had almost made up his mind to bring 
him up to his own trade of a coal-fitter. But by 
this time his eldest son William (afterwards Lord 
Stowell), who had gained a scholarship at Oxford, 
wrote to his father, " Send Jack up to me, I can do 
better for him." John was sent up to Oxford 
accordingly, where, by his brother's influence and 
his own application, he succeeded in obtaining a 
fellowship. But when at home during the vacation, 
he was so unfortunate or rather so fortunate, as 
the issue proved as to fall in love ; and running 
across the Border with his eloped bride, he 
married, and, as his friends thought, ruined himself 
for life. He had neither house nor home when he 
married, and had not yet earned a penny. He lost 
his fellowship, and at the same time shut himself 
out from preferment in the Church, for which he 
had been destined. He accordingly turned his 
attention to the study of the law. To a friend 
he wrote, " I have married rashly ; but it is my 



determination to work hard to provide for the 
woman I love." 

John Scott came up to London, and took a small 
house in Cursitor Lane, where he settled down to 
the study of the law. He worked with great dili- 
gence and resolution ; rising at four every morning 
and studying till late at night, binding a wet towel 
round his head to keep himself awake. Too poor 
to study under a special pleader, he copied out 
three folio volumes from a manuscript collection 
of precedents. Long after, when Lord Chancellor, 
passing down Cursitor Lane one day, he said to his 
secretary, " Here was my first perch : many a time 
do I recollect coming down this street with six- 
pence in my hand to buy sprats for supper." When 
at length called to the bar, he waited long for 
employment. His first year's earnings amounted 
to only nine shillings. For four years he assidu- 
ously attended the London Courts and the Northern 
Circuit, with little better success. Even in his 
native town, he seldom had other than pauper cases 
to defend. The results were indeed so discouraging, 
that he had almost determined to relinquish his 
chance of London business, and settle down in 
some provincial town as a country barrister. His 
brother William wrote home, " Business is dull 
with poor Jack, very dull indeed ! " But as he 
had escaped being a grocer, a coal-fitter, and a 
country parson, so did he also escape being a 
country lawyer. 

An opportunity at length occurred which en- 
abled John Scott to exhibit the large legal know- 
ledge which he had so laboriously acquired. In 
a case in which he was engaged, he urged a legal 
point against the wishes both of the attorney and 


client who employed him. The Master of the Rolls 
decided against him, but on an appeal to the House 
of Lords, Lord Thurlow reversed the decision on 
the very point that Scott had urged. On leaving 
the House that day, a solicitor tapped him on the 
shoulder and said, "Young man, your bread and 
butter's cut for life." And the prophecy proved 
a true one. Lord Mansfield used to say that he 
knew no interval between no business and 3ooo/. 
a-year, and Scott might have told the same story; 
for so rapid was his progress, that in 1783, when 
only thirty-two, he was appointed King's Counsel, 
was at the head of the Northern Circuit, and sat 
in Parliament for the borough of Weobley. It was 
in the dull but unflinching drudgery of the early 
part of his career that he laid the foundation of 
his future success. He won his spurs by persever- 
ance, knowledge, and ability, diligently cultivated. 
He was successively appointed to the offices of 
solicitor and attorney-general, and rose steadily 
upwards to the highest office that the Crown had 
to bestow that of Lord Chancellor of England, 
which he held for a quarter of a century. 

Henry Bickersteth was the son of a surgeon at 
Kirkby Lonsdale, in Westmoreland, and was him- 
self educated to that profession. As a student at 
Edinburgh, he distinguished himself by the steadi- 
ness with which he worked, and the application 
which he devoted to the science of medicine. 
Returned to Kirkby Lonsdale, he took an active 
part in his father's practice ; but he had no liking 
for the profession, and grew discontented with the 
obscurity of a country town. He went on, neverthe- 
less, diligently improving himself, and engaged on 
speculations in the higher branches of physiology. 


In conformity with his own wish, his father con- 
sented to send him to Cambridge, where it was 
his intention to take a medical degree with the 
view of practising in the metropolis. Close appli- 
cation to his studies, however, threw him out of 
health, and, with a view to re-establishing his 
strength, he accepted the appointment of travelling 
physician to Lord Oxford. While abroad he 
mastered Italian, and acquired a great admiration 
for Italian literature, but no greater liking for 
medicine than before. On the contrary, he deter- 
mined to abandon it ; but returning to Cambridge, 
he took his degree ; and that he worked hard may 
be inferred from the fact that he was senior wrangler 
of his year. Disappointed in his desire to enter the 
army, he turned to the bar, and entered a student 
of the Inner Temple. He worked as hard at law as 
he had done at medicine. Writing to his father, he 
said, " Everybody says to me, ' You are certain of 
success in the end only persevere ' ; and though I 
don't well understand how this is to happen, I try 
to believe it as much as I can, and I shall not fail to 
do everything in my power." At twenty-eight he 
was called to the bar, and had every step in life yet 
to make. His means were straitened, and he lived 
upon the contributions of his friends. For years he 
studied and waited. Still no business came. He 
stinted himself in recreation, in clothes, and even in 
the necessaries of life ; struggling on indefatigably 
through all. Writing home, he " confessed that he 
hardly knew how he should be able to struggle on 
till he had fair time and opportunity to establish 
himself." After three years' waiting, still without 
success, he wrote to his friends that rather than 
be a burden upon them longer, he was willing to 


give the matter up and return to Cambridge, 
" where he was sure of support and some profit." 
The friends at home sent him another small 
remittance, and he persevered. Business gradually 
came in. Acquitting himself creditably in small 
matters, he was at length entrusted with cases of 
greater importance. He was a man who never 
missed an opportunity, nor allowed a legitimate 
chance of improvement to escape him. His un- 
flinching industry soon began to tell upon his 
fortunes ; a few more years and he was not only 
enabled to do without assistance from home, but he 
was in a position to pay back with interest the 
debts which he had incurred. The clouds had dis- 
persed, and the after career of Henry Bickersteth 
was one of honour, of emolument, and of dis- 
tinguished fame. He ended his career as Master of 
the Rolls, sitting in the House of Peers as Baron 
Langdale. His life affords only another illustration 
of the power of patience, perseverance, and con- 
scientious working, in elevating the character of 
the individual, and crowning his labours with the 
most complete success. 

Such are a few of the distinguished men who 
have honourably worked their way to the highest 
position, and won the richest rewards of their pro- 
fession, by the diligent exercise of qualities in 
many respects of an ordinary character, but made 
potent by the force of application and industry. 


" A coeur vaillant rien d'impossible." -Jacques Cceur. 
" Den Muthigen gehort die Welt." German Proverb. 
" In every work that he began ... he did it with all his heart, 
and prospered." //. Chron. xxxi. 21. 

THERE is a famous speech recorded of an old 
Norseman, thoroughly characteristic of the 
Teuton. " I believe neither in idols nor 
demons," said he, " I put my sole trust in my own 
strength of body and soul." The ancient crest of 
a pickaxe with the motto of " Either I will find 
a way or make one," was an expression of the same 
sturdy independence which to this day distin- 
guishes the descendants of the Northmen. Indeed, 
nothing could be more characteristic of the Scan- 
dinavian mythology than that it had a god with 
a hammer. A man's character is seen in small 
matters ; and from even so slight a test as the mode 
in which a man wields a hammer, his energy may 
in some measure be inferred. Thus an eminent 
Frenchman hit off in a single phrase the character- 
istic quality of the inhabitants of a particular 
district, in which a friend of his proposed to settle 
and buy land. " Beware," said he, " of making a 
purchase there ; I know the men of that department ; 



the pupils who come from it to our veterinary 
school at Paris do not strike hard upon the anvil \ 
they want energy ; and you will not get a satis- 
factory return on any capital you may invest there." 
A fine and just appreciation of character, indicating 
the thoughtful observer ; and strikingly illustrative 
of the fact that it is the energy of the individual 
men that gives strength to a State, and confers a 
value even upon the very soil which they cultivate. 
As the French proverb has it : " Tant vaut 1'homme, 
tant vaut sa terre." 

The cultivation of this quality is of the greatest 
importance ; resolute determination in the pursuit 
of worthy objects being the foundation of all true 
greatness of character. Energy enables a man 
to force his way through irksome drudgery and 
dry details, and carries him onward and upward 
in every station in life. It accomplishes more than 
genius, with not one-half the disappointment and 
peril. It is not eminent talent that is required to 
ensure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose, 
not merely the power to achieve, but the will 
to labour energetically and perseveringly. Hence 
energy of will may be defined to be the very 
central power of character in a man in a word, 
it is the Man himself. It gives impulse to his 
every action, and soul to every effort. True hope 
is based on it, and it is hope that gives the real 
perfume to life. There is a fine heraldic motto 
on a broken helmet in Battle Abbey, " L'espoir est 
ma force," which might be the motto of every man's 
life. "Woe unto him that is faint-hearted," says 
the son of Sirach. There is, indeed, no blessing 
equal to the possession of a stout heart. Even if 
a man fail in his efforts, it will be a satisfaction 


to him to enjoy the consciousness of having done 
his best. In humble life nothing can be more 
cheering and beautiful than to see a man combating 
suffering by patience, triumphing in his integrity, 
and who, when his feet are bleeding and his limbs 
failing him, still walks upon his courage. 

Mere wishes and desires but engender a sort 
of green sickness in young minds, unless they are 
promptly embodied in act and deed. It will not 
avail merely to wait, as so many do, " until Blucher 
comes up," but they must struggle on and persevere 
in the meantime, as Wellington did. The good 
purpose once formed must be carried out with 
alacrity and without swerving. In most conditions 
of life, drudgery and toil are to be cheerfully 
endured as the best and most wholesome discipline. 
"In life," said Ary Scheffer, "nothing bears fruit 
except by labour of mind or body. To strive and 
still strive such is life ; and in this respect mine is 
fulfilled ; but I dare to say, with just pride, that 
nothing has ever shaken my courage. With a 
strong soul, and a noble aim, one can do what one 
wills, morally speaking." 

Hugh Miller said the only school in which he 
was properly taught was " that world-wide school 
in which toil and hardship are the severe but noble 
teachers." He who allows his application to falter, 
or shirks his work on frivolous pretexts, is on the 
sure road to ultimate failure. Let any task be 
undertaken as a thing not possible to be evaded 
and it will soon come to be performed with alacrity 
and cheerfulness. Charles IX. of Sweden was a 
firm believer in the power of will, even in youth. 
Laying his hand on the head of his youngest son 
when engaged on a difficult task, he exclaimed, " He 


shall do it ! he shall do it ! " The habit of applica- 
tion becomes easy in time, like every other habit. 
Thus persons with comparatively moderate powers 
will accomplish much, if they apply themselves 
wholly and indefatigably to one thing at a time. 
Fowell Buxton placed his confidence in ordinary 
means and extraordinary application ; realizing the 
scriptural injunction, " Whatsoever thy hand findeth 
to do, do it with all thy might " ; and he attributed 
his own success in life to his practice of " being a 
whole man to one thing at a time." 

Nothing that is of real worth can be achieved 
without courageous working. Man owes his growth 
chiefly to that active striving of the will, that 
encounter with difficulty, which we call effort ; and 
it is astonishing to find how often results apparently 
impracticable are thus made possible. An intense 
anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality ; 
our desires being often but the precursors of the 
things which we are capable of performing. On 
the contrary, the timid and hesitating find every- 
thing impossible, chiefly because it seems so. It is 
related of a young French officer, that he used to 
walk about his apartment exclaiming, "I will be 
Marshal of France and a great general." His ardent 
desire was the presentiment of his success; for 
the young officer did become a distinguished 
commander, and he died a Marshal of France. 

Mr. Walker, author of the ' Original,' had so 
great a faith in the power of will, that he says on 
one occasion he determined to be well, and he was 
so. This may answer once ; but, though safer to 
follow than many prescriptions, it will not always 
succeed. The power of mind over body is no 
doubt great, but it may be strained until the 


physical power breaks down altogether. It is related 
of Muley Moluc, the Moorish leader, that, when 
lying ill, almost worn out by an incurable disease, 
a battle took place between his troops and the 
Portuguese ; when, starting from his litter at the 
great crisis of the fight, he rallied his army, led 
them to victory, and instantly afterwards sank 
exhausted and expired. 

It is will force of purpose that enables a 
man to do or be whatever he sets his mind on 
being or doing. A holy man was accustomed to 
say, " Whatever you wish, that you are : for such 
is the force of our will, joined to the Divine, that 
whatever we wish to be, seriously, and with a true 
intention, that we become. No one ardently 
wishes to be submissive, patient, modest, or liberal, 
who does not become what he wishes." The story 
is told of a working carpenter, who was observed 
one day planing a magistrate's bench, which he was 
repairing, with more than usual carefulness; and 
when asked the reason, he replied, " Because I wish 
to make it easy against the time when I come to 
sit upon it myself." And, singularly enough, the 
man actually lived to sit upon that very bench 
as a magistrate. 

Whatever theoretical conclusions logicians may 
have formed as to the freedom of the will, each 
individual feels that practically he is free to choose 
between good and evil that he is not as a mere 
straw thrown upon the water to mark the direction 
of the current, but that he has within him the 
power of a strong swimmer, and is capable of 
striking out for himself, of buffeting with the waves, 
and directing to a great extent his own independent 
course. There is no absolute constraint upon our 


volitions, and we feel and know that we are not 
bound, as by a spell, with reference to our actions. 
It would paralyse all desire of excellence were we 
to think otherwise. The entire business and con- 
duct of life, with its domestic rules, its social 
arrangements, and its public institutions, proceed 
upon the practical conviction that the will is 
free. Without this where would be responsibility ? 
and what the advantage of teaching, advising, 
preaching, reproof, and correction ? What were 
the use of laws, were it not the universal belief, 
as it is the universal fact, that men obey them or 
not very much as they individually determine? 
In every moment of our life, conscience is pro- 
claiming that our will is free. It is the only thing 
that is wholly ours, and it rests solely with ourselves 
individually whether we give it the right or the 
wrong direction. Our habits or our temptations are 
not our masters, but we of them. Even in yielding, 
conscience tells us we might resist ; and that were 
we determined to master them, there would not 
be required for that purpose a stronger resolution 
than we know ourselves to be capable of exercising. 
" You are now at the age," said Lamennais once, 
addressing a gay youth, " at which a decision must 
be formed by you ; a little later, and you may have 
to groan within the tomb which you yourself have 
dug, without the power of rolling away the stone. 
That which the easiest becomes a habit in us is the 
will. Learn then to will strongly and decisively; 
thus fix your floating life, and leave it no longer 
to be carried hither and thither, like a withered 
leaf, by every wind that blows." 

Buxton held the conviction that a young man 
might be very much what he pleased, provided 


he formed a strong resolution and held to it. 
Writing to one of his sons, he said to him, "You 
are now at that period of life in which you must 
make a turn to the right or the left. You must 
now give proofs of principle, determination, and 
strength of mind ; or you must sink into idleness, 
and acquire the habits and character of a desultory, 
ineffective young man ; and if once you fall to that 
point, you will find it no easy matter to rise again. 
I am sure that a young man may be very much 
what he pleases. In my own case it was so. ... 
Much of my happiness, and all my prosperity in 
life, have resulted from the change I made at your 
age. If you seriously resolve to be energetic and 
industrious, depend upon it that you will for your 
whole life have reason to rejoice that you were 
wise enough to form and to act upon that deter- 
mination." As will, considered without regard to 
direction, is simply constancy, firmness, persever- 
ance, it will be obvious that everything depends 
upon right direction and motives. Directed towards 
the enjoyment of the senses, the strong will may 
be a demon, and the intellect merely its debased 
slave ; but directed towards good, the strong will 
is a king, and the intellect the minister of man's 
highest well-being. 

" Where there is a will there is a way," is an 
old and true saying. He who resolves upon doing 
a thing, by that very resolution often scales the 
barriers to it, and secures its achievement. To 
think we are able, is almost to be so to determine 
upon attainment is frequently attainment itself. 
Thus, earnest resolution has often seemed to have 
about it almost a savour of omnipotence. The 
strength of Suwarrow's character lay in his power of 


willing, and, like most resolute persons, he preached 
it up as a system. "You can only half will," he 
would say to people who failed. Like Richelieu and 
Napoleon, he would have the word "impossible" 
banished from the dictionary. " I don't know," 
" I can't," and " impossible," were words which he 
detested above all others. " Learn ! Do ! Try ! " 
he would exclaim. His biographer has said of him, 
that he furnished a remarkable illustration of what 
may be effected by the energetic development and 
exercise of faculties, the germs of which at least are 
in every human heart. 

One of Napoleon's favourite maxims was, " The 
truest wisdom is a resolute determination." His 
life, beyond most others, vividly showed what a 
powerful and unscrupulous will could accomplish. 
He threw his whole force of body and mind direct 
upon his work. Imbecile rulers and the nations 
they governed went down before him in succession. 
He was told that the Alps stood in the way of his 
armies " There shall be no Alps," he said, and the 
road across the Simplon was constructed, through a 
district formerly almost inaccessible. " Impossible," 
said he, " is a word only to be found in the 
dictionary of fools." He was a man who toiled 
terribly; sometimes employing and exhausting 
four secretaries at a time. He spared no one, 
not even himself. His influence inspired other 
men, and put a new life into them. " I made my 
generals out of mud," he said. But all was of no 
avail; for Napoleon's intense selfishness was his 
ruin, and the ruin of France, which he left a prey 
to anarchy. His life taught the lesson that power, 
however energetically wielded, without beneficence, 
is fatal to its possessor and its subjects ; and that 


knowledge, or knowingness, without goodness, is 
but the incarnate principle of Evil. 

Our own Wellington was a far greater man. 
Not less resolute, firm, and persistent, but more 
self-denying, conscientious, and truly patriotic. 
Napoleon's aim was " Glory " ; Wellington's watch- 
word, like Nelson's, was " Duty." The former word, 
it is said, does not once occur in his despatches ; 
the latter often, but never accompanied by any 
high-sounding professions. The greatest difficulties 
could neither embarrass nor intimidate Wellington ; 
his energy invariably rising in proportion to the 
obstacles to be surmounted. The patience, the 
firmness, the resolution, with which he bore 
through the maddening vexations and gigantic 
difficulties of the Peninsular campaigns, is, perhaps, 
one of the sublimest things to be found in history. 
In Spain, Wellington not only exhibited the genius 
of the general, but the comprehensive wisdom of 
the statesman. Though his natural temper was 
irritable in the extreme, his high sense of duty 
enabled him to restrain it ; and to those about him 
his patience seemed absolutely inexhaustible. His 
great character stands untarnished by ambition, by 
avarice, or any low passion. Though a man of 
powerful individuality, he yet displayed a great 
variety of endowment. The equal of Napoleon in 
generalship, he was as prompt, vigorous, and 
daring as Clive ; as wise a statesman as Cromwell ; 
and as pure and high-minded as Washington. The 
great Wellington left behind him an enduring 
reputation, founded on toilsome campaigns won by 
skilful combination, by fortitude which nothing 
could exhaust, by sublime daring, and perhaps by 
still sublimer patience. 


Energy usually displays itself in promptitude 
and decision. When Ledyard the traveller was 
asked by the African Association when he would be 
ready to set out for Africa, he immediately answered, 
" To-morrow morning." Blucher's promptitude ob- 
tained for him the cognomen of " Marshal Forwards " 
throughout the Prussian army. When John Jervis, 
afterwards Earl St. Vincent, was asked when he 
would be ready to join his ship, he replied, 
" Directly." And when Sir Colin Campbell, ap- 
pointed to the command of the Indian army, was 
asked when he could set out, his answer was, 
"To-morrow," an earnest of his subsequent success. 
For it is rapid decision, and a similar promptitude 
in action, such as taking instant advantage of an 
enemy's mistakes, that so often win battles. 
" At Arcola," said Napoleon, " I won the battle 
with twenty-five horsemen. I seized a moment of 
lassitude, gave every man a trumpet, and gained 
the day with this handful. Two armies are two 
bodies which meet and endeavour to frighten each 
other : a moment of panic occurs, and that moment 
must be turned to advantage." " Every moment 
lost," said he at another time, " gives an opportunity 
for misfortune " ; and he declared that he beat 
the Austrians because they never knew the value 
of time : while they dawdled, he overthrew 

India has, during the last century, been a great 
field for the display of British energy. From Clive 
to Havelock and Clyde there is a long and honour- 
able roll of distinguished names in Indian legislation 
and warfare, such as Wellesley, Metcalfe, Outram, 
Edwardes, and the Lawrences. Another great but 
sullied name is that of Warren Hastings a man 


of dauntless will and indefatigable industry. His 
family was ancient and illustrious ; but their vicis- 
situdes of fortune and ill-requited loyalty in the cause 
of the Stuarts brought them to poverty, and the 
family estate at Daylesford, of which they had been 
lords of the manor for hundreds of years, at length 
passed from their hands. The last Hastings of 
Daylesford had, however, presented the parish 
living to his second son ; and it was in his house, 
many years later, that Warren Hastings, his 
grandson, was born. The boy learnt his letters 
at the village school, on the same bench with the 
children of the peasantry. He played in the fields 
which his fathers had owned ; and what the loyal 
and brave Hastings of Daylesford had been, was 
ever in the boy's thoughts. His young ambition 
was fired, and it is said that one summer's day, 
when only seven years old, as he laid him down 
on the bank of the stream which flowed through 
the domain, he formed in his mind the resolution 
that he would yet recover possession of the family 
lands. It was the romantic vision of a boy; yet 
he lived to realize it. The dream became a passion, 
rooted in his very life ; and he pursued his deter- 
mination through youth up to manhood, with that 
calm but indomitable force of will which was the 
most striking peculiarity of his character. The 
orphan boy became one of the most powerful men 
of his time ; he retrieved the fortunes of his line ; 
bought back the old estate, and rebuilt the family 
mansion. " When, under a tropical sun," says 
Macaulay, " he ruled fifty millions of Asiatics, his 
hopes, amidst all the cares of war, finance, and 
legislation, still pointed to Daylesford. And when 
his long public life, so singularly chequered with 


good and evil, with glory and obloquy, had at 
length closed for ever, it was to Daylesford that he 
retired to die." 

Sir Charles Napier was another Indian leader 
of extraordinary courage and determination. He 
once said of the difficulties with which he was 
surrounded in one of his campaigns, "They only 
make my feet go deeper into the ground." His 
battle of Meeanee was one of the most extraordinary 
feats in history. With 2000 men, of whom only 
400 were Europeans, he encountered an army of 
35,000 hardy and well-armed Beloochees. It was 
an act, apparently, of the most daring temerity, 
but the general had faith in himself and in his 
men. He charged the Belooch centre up a high 
bank which formed their rampart in front, and for 
three mortal hours the battle raged. Each man of 
that small force, inspired by the chief, became for 
the time a hero. The Beloochees, though twenty 
to one, were driven back, but with their faces to 
the foe. It is this sort of pluck, tenacity, and 
determined perseverance which wins soldiers' 
battles, and, indeed, every battle. It is the one 
neck nearer that wins the race and shows the 
blood; it is the one march more that wins the 
campaign ; the five minutes' more persistent courage 
that wins the fight. Though your force be less 
than another's, you equal and outmaster your 
opponent if you continue it longer and concentrate 
it more. The reply of the Spartan farmer, who 
said to his son, when complaining that his sword 
was too short, " Add a step to it," is applicable to 
everything in life. 

Napier took the right method of inspiring his 
men with his own heroic spirit. He worked as 



hard as any private in the ranks. " The great art 
of commanding," he said, " is to take a fair share of 
the work. The man who leads an army cannot 
succeed unless his whole mind is thrown into his 
work. The more trouble, the more labour must be 
given ; the more danger, the more pluck must be 
shown, till all is overpowered." A young officer 
who accompanied him in his campaign in the 
Cutchee Hills, once said, "When I see that old 
man incessantly on his horse, how can I be idle 
who am young and strong? I would go into a 
loaded cannon's mouth if he ordered me." This 
remark, when repeated to Napier, he said was 
ample reward for his toils. The anecdote of his 
interview with the Indian juggler strikingly illus- 
trates his cool courage as well as his remarkable 
simplicity and honesty of character. On one 
occasion, after the Indian battles, a famous juggler 
visited the camp and performed his feats before the 
General, his family, and staff. Among other per- 
formances, this man cut in two with a stroke of 
his sword a lime or lemon placed in the hand of his 
assistant. Napier thought there was some collusion 
between the juggler and his retainer. To divide by 
a sweep of the sword on a man's hand so small an 
object without touching the flesh he believed to be 
impossible, though a similar incident is related by 
Scott in his romance of the ' Talisman.' To deter- 
mine the point, the General offered his own hand 
for the experiment, and he stretched out his right 
arm. The juggler looked attentively at the hand, 
and said he would not make the trial. " I thought 
I would find you out ! " exclaimed Napier. " But 
stop," added the other, " let me see your left hand." 
The left hand was submitted, and the man then 


said firmly, " If you will hold your arm steady I 
will perform the feat" " But why the left hand and 
not the right?" " Because the right hand is hollow 
in the centre, and there is a risk of cutting off the 
thumb; the left is high, and the danger will be 
less." Napier was startled. " I got frightened," 
he said ; " I saw it was an actual feat of delicate 
swordsmanship, and if I had not abused the man 
as I did before my staff, and challenged him to the 
trial, I honestly acknowledge I would have retired 
from the encounter. However, I put the lime on 
my hand, and held out my arm steadily. The 
juggler balanced himself, and, with a swift stroke, 
cut the lime in two pieces. I felt the edge of the 
sword on my hand as if a cold thread had been 
drawn across it. So much (he added) for the brave 
swordsmen of India, whom our fine fellows defeated 
at Meeanee/' 

The recent terrible struggle in India has served 
to bring out, perhaps more prominently than any 
previous event in our history, the determined 
energy and self-reliance of the national char- 
acter. Although English officialism may often drift 
stupidly into gigantic blunders, the men of the 
nation generally contrive to work their way out 
of them with a heroism almost approaching the 
sublime. In May, 1857, when the revolt burst 
upon India like a thunder-clap, the British forces 
had been allowed to dwindle to their extreme 
minimum, and were scattered over a wide extent of 
country, many of them in remote cantonments. 
The Bengal regiments, one after another, rose 
against their officers, broke away, and rushed to 
Delhi. Province after province was lapped in 
mutiny and rebellion ; and the cry for help rose 


from east to west. Everywhere the English stood 
at bay in small detachments, beleaguered and sur- 
rounded, apparently incapable of resistance. Their 
discomfiture seemed so complete, and the utter ruin 
of the British cause in India so certain, that it 
might be said of them then, as it had been said 
before, " These English never know when they are 
beaten." According to rule, they ought then and 
there to have succumbed to inevitable fate. 

While the issue of the mutiny still appeared 
uncertain, Holkar, one of the native princes, con- 
sulted his astrologer for information. The reply 
was, " If all the Europeans save one are slain, that 
one will remain to fight and reconquer." In their 
very darkest moment even where, as at Lucknow, 
a mere handful of British soldiers, civilians, and 
women, held out amidst a city and province in arms 
against them there was no word of despair, no 
thought of surrender. Though cut off from all 
communication with their friends for months, and 
not knowing whether India was lost or held, they 
never ceased to have perfect faith in the courage 
and devotedness of their countrymen. They knew 
that while a body of men of English race held 
together in India they would not be left unheeded 
to perish. They never dreamt of any other issue 
but retrieval of their misfortune and ultimate 
triumph ; and if the worst came to the worst, they 
could but fall at their post, and die in the perform- 
ance of their duty. Need we remind the reader 
of the names of Havelock, Inglis, Neill, and Outram 
men of truly heroic mould of each of whom 
it might with truth be said that he had the heart 
of a chevalier, the soul of a believer, and the 
temperament of a martyr ? Montalembert has said 


of them that " they do honour to the human race." 
But throughout that terrible trial almost all proved 
equally great women, civilians and soldiers from 
the general down through all grades to the private 
and bugleman. The men were not picked : they 
belonged to the same ordinary people whom we 
daily meet at home in the streets, in workshops, 
in the fields, at clubs; yet when sudden disaster 
fell upon them, each and all displayed a wealth of 
personal resources and energy, and became as it 
were individually heroic. " Not one of them," says 
Montalembert, " shrank or trembled all, military 
and civilians, young and old, generals and soldiers, 
resisted, fought, and perished with a coolness and 
intrepidity which never faltered. It is in this 
circumstance that shines out the immense value of 
public education, which invites the Englishman 
from his youth to make use of his strength and his 
liberty, to associate, resist, fear nothing, to be 
astonished at nothing, and to save himself, by his 
own sole exertions, from every sore strait in 

It has been said that Delhi was taken and India 
saved by the personal character of Sir John 
Lawrence. The very name of " Lawrence " repre- 
sented power in the North-West Provinces. His 
standard of duty, zeal, and personal effort was of 
the highest ; and every man who served under him 
seemed to be inspired by his spirit. It was declared 
of him that his character alone was worth an army. 
The same might be said of his brother Sir Henry, 
who organized the Punjaub force that took so 
prominent a part in the capture of Delhi. Both 
brothers inspired those who were about them with 
perfect love and confidence. Both possessed that 


quality of tenderness which is one of the true 
elements of the heroic character. Both lived 
amongst the people, and powerfully influenced 
them for good. Above all, as Col. Edwardes says, 
" they drew models on young fellows' minds, which 
they went forth and copied in their several ad- 
ministrations : they sketched a faith, and begot a 
school, which are both living things at this day." 
Sir John Lawrence had by his side such men as 
Montgomery, Nicholson, Cotton, and Edwardes, as 
prompt, decisive, and high-souled as himself. John 
Nicholson was one of the finest, manliest, and 
noblest of men " every inch a hakim," the natives 
said of him "a tower of strength," as he was 
characterized by Lord Dalhousie. In whatever 
capacity he acted he was great, because he acted 
with his whole strength and soul. A brotherhood 
of fakeers borne away by their enthusiastic admira- 
tion of the man even began the worship of Nikkil 
Seyn : he had some of them punished for their 
folly, but they continued their worship neverthe- 
less. Of his sustained energy and persistency an 
illustration may be cited in his pursuit of the 5 5th 
Sepoy mutineers, when he was in the saddle for 
twenty consecutive hours, and travelled more than 
seventy miles. When the enemy set up their 
standard at Delhi, Lawrence and Montgomery, 
relying on the support of the people of the Punjaub, 
and compelling their admiration and confidence, 
strained every nerve to keep their own province 
in perfect order, whilst they hurled every available 
soldier, European and Sikh, against that city. Sir 
John wrote to the commander-in-chief to "hang 
on to the rebels' noses before Delhi," while the 
troops pressed on by forced marches under 


Nicholson, "the tramp of whose war-horse might 
be heard miles off," as was afterwards said of him 
by a rough Sikh who wept over his grave. 

The siege and storming of Delhi was the most 
illustrious event which occurred in the course of 
that gigantic struggle, although the leaguer of 
Lucknow, during which the merest skeleton of a 
British regiment the 32nd held out, under the 
heroic Inglis, for six months against two hundred 
thousand armed enemies, has perhaps excited more 
intense interest. At Delhi, too, the British were 
really the besieged, though ostensibly the be- 
siegers ; they were a mere handful of men " in the 
open" not more than 3,700 bayonets, European 
and native and they were assailed from day to 
day by an army of rebels numbering at one time 
as many as 75,000 men, trained to European dis- 
cipline by English officers, and supplied with all 
but exhaustless munitions of war. The heroic little 
band sat down before the city under the burning 
rays of a tropical sun. Death, wounds, and fever 
failed to turn them from their purpose. Thirty 
times they were attacked by overwhelming numbers, 
and thirty times did they drive back the enemy 
behind their defences. As Captain Hodson him- 
self one of the bravest there has said, " I venture 
to aver that no other nation in the world would 
have remained here, or avoided defeat if they had 
attempted to do so." Never for an instant did 
these heroes falter at their work ; with sublime 
endurance they held on, fought on, and never 
relaxed until, dashing through the "imminent 
deadly breach," the place was won, and the British 
flag was again unfurled on the walls of Delhi. 
All were great privates, officers, and generals. 


Common soldiers who had been inured to a life 
of hardship, and young officers who had been 
nursed in luxurious homes, alike proved their 
manhood, and emerged from that terrible trial with 
equal honour. The native strength and soundness 
of the English race, and of manly English training 
and discipline, were never more powerfully ex- 
hibited ; and it was there emphatically proved that 
the Men of England are, after all, its greatest 
products. A terrible price was paid for this great 
chapter in our history, but if those who survive, 
and those who come after, profit by the lesson and 
example, it may not have been purchased at too 
great a cost. 

But not less energy and courage have been dis- 
played in India and the East by men of various 
nations, in other lines of action more peaceful and 
beneficent than that of war. And while the heroes 
of the sword are remembered, the heroes of the 
gospel ought not to be forgotten. From Xavier 
to Martyn and Williams, there has been a succes- 
sion of illustrious missionary labourers, working 
in a spirit of sublime self-sacrifice, without any 
thought of worldly honour, inspired solely by the 
hope of seeking out and rescuing the lost and fallen 
of their race. Borne up by invincible courage and 
never-failing patience, these men have endured 
privations, braved dangers, walked through pesti- 
lence, and borne all toils, fatigues, and sufferings, 
yet held on their way rejoicing, glorying even 
in martyrdom itself. Of these one of the first and 
most illustrious was Francis Xavier. Born of noble 
lineage, and with pleasure, power, and honour 
within his reach, he proved by his life that there 
are higher objects in the world than rank, and 


nobler aspirations than the accumulation of wealth. 
He was a true gentleman in manners and senti- 
ment ; brave, honourable, generous ; easily led, yet 
capable of leading; easily persuaded, yet himself 
persuasive; a most patient, resolute and energetic 
man. At the age of twenty-two he was earning 
his living as a public teacher of philosophy at the 
University of Paris. There Xavier became the 
intimate friend and associate of Loyola, and shortly 
afterwards he conducted the pilgrimage of the first 
little band of proselytes to Rome. 

When John III. of Portugal resolved to plant 
Christianity in the Indian territories subject to 
his influence, Bobadilla was first selected as his 
missionary ; but being disabled by illness, it was 
found necessary to make another selection, and 
Xavier was chosen. Repairing his tattered cassock, 
and with no other baggage than his breviary, he 
at once started for Lisbon and embarked for the 
East. The ship in which he set sail for Goa had 
the Governor on board, with a reinforcement of 
a thousand men for the garrison of the place. 
Though a cabin was placed at his disposal, Xavier 
slept on deck throughout the voyage with his head 
on a coil of ropes, messing with the sailors. By 
ministering to their wants, inventing innocent 
sports for their amusement, and attending them 
in their sickness, he wholly won their hearts, and 
they regarded him with veneration. 

Arrived at Goa, Xavier was shocked at the 
depravity of the people, settlers as well as natives ; 
for the former had imported the vices without the 
restraints of civilization, and the latter had only 
been too apt to imitate their bad example. Passing 
along the streets of the city, sounding his handbell 


as he went, he implored the people to send him 
their children to be instructed. He shortly suc- 
ceeded in collecting a large number of scholars, 
whom he carefully taught day by day, at the same 
time visiting the sick, the lepers, and the wretched 
of all classes, with the object of assuaging their 
miseries, and bringing them to the Truth. No cry 
of human suffering which reached him was dis- 
regarded. Hearing of the degradation and misery 
of the pearl-fishers of Manaar, he set out to visit 
them, and his bell again rang out the invitation 
of mercy. He baptized and he taught, but the 
latter he could only do through interpreters. His 
most eloquent teaching was his ministration to 
the wants and the sufferings of the wretched. 

On he went, his handbell sounding along the 
coast of Comorin, among the towns and villages, 
the temples and the bazaars, summoning the natives 
to gather about him and be instructed. He had 
translations made of the Catechism, the Apostles' 
Creed, the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, 
and some of the devotional offices of the Church. 
Committing these to memory in their own tongue 
he recited them to the children, until they had 
them by heart; after which he sent them forth to 
teach the words to their parents and neighbours. 
At Cape Comorin he appointed thirty teachers, 
who, under himself, presided over thirty Christian 
Churches, though the Churches were but humble, 
in most cases consisting only of a cottage sur- 
mounted by a cross. Thence he passed to Travan- 
core, sounding his way from village to village, 
baptizing until his hands dropped with weariness, 
and repeating his formulas until his voice became 
almost inaudible. According to his own account, 


the success of his mission surpassed his highest 
expectations. His pure, earnest, and beautiful life, 
and the irresistible eloquence of his deeds, made 
converts wherever he went ; and by sheer force 
of sympathy, those who saw him and listened to 
him insensibly caught a portion of his ardour. 

Burdened with the thought that "the harvest 
is great and the labourers are few," Xavier next 
sailed to Malacca and Japan, where he found him- 
self amongst entirely new races speaking other 
tongues. The most that he could do here was to 
weep and pray, to smooth the pillow and watch by 
the sick-bed, sometimes soaking the sleeve of his 
surplice in water, from which to squeeze out a few 
drops and baptize the dying. Hoping all things, 
and fearing nothing, this valiant soldier of the 
truth was borne onward throughout by faith and 
energy. " Whatever form of death or torture," said 
he, " awaits me, I am ready to suffer it ten thou- 
sand times for the salvation of a single soul." He 
battled with hunger, thirst, privations and dangers 
of all kinds, still pursuing his mission of love, un- 
resting and unwearying. At length, after eleven 
years' labour, this great good man, while striving 
to find a way into China, was stricken with fever 
in the Island of Sanchian, and there received his 
crown of glory. A hero of nobler mould, more 
pure, self-denying, and courageous, has probably 
never trod this earth. 

Other missionaries have followed Xavier in the 
same field of work, such as Schwartz, Carey, and 
Marshman in India; Gutzlaff and Morrison in 
China ; Williams in the South Seas ; Campbell, 
Moffatt, and Livingstone in Africa. John Williams, 
the martyr of Erromanga, was originally apprenticed 


to a furnishing ironmonger. Though considered 
a dull boy, he was handy at his trade, in which 
he acquired so much skill that his master usually 
entrusted him with any blacksmith's work that 
required the exercise of more than ordinary care. 
He was also fond of bell-hanging and other em- 
ployments which took him away from the shop. 
A casual sermon which he heard gave his mind 
a serious bias, and he became a Sunday-school 
teacher. The cause of missions having been 
brought under his notice at some of his society's 
meetings, he determined to devote himself to this 
work. His services were accepted by the London 
Missionary Society; and his master allowed him 
to leave the ironmonger's shop before the expiry of 
his indentures. The islands of the Pacific Ocean 
were the principal scene of his labours more par- 
ticularly Huahine in Tahiti, Raiatea, and Rarotonga. 
Like the Apostles, he worked with his hands, 
at blacksmith work, gardening, shipbuilding ; and 
he endeavoured to teach the islanders the art of 
civilized life, at the same time that he instructed 
them in the truths of religion. It was in the course 
of his indefatigable labours that he was massacred 
by savages on the shore of Erromanga none 
worthier than he to wear the martyr's crown. 

The career of Dr. Livingstone is one of the 
most interesting of all. He has told the story of 
his life in that modest and unassuming manner 
which is so characteristic of the man himself. His 
ancestors were poor but honest Highlanders, and 
it is related of one of them, renowned in his district 
for wisdom and prudence, that when on his death- 
bed he called his children round him and left them 
these words, the only legacy he had to bequeath 


" In my lifetime," said he, " I have searched most 
carefully through all the traditions I could find of 
our family, and I never could discover that there 
was a dishonest man among our forefathers : if, 
therefore, any of you or any of your children 
should take to dishonest ways, it will not be be- 
cause it runs in our blood ; it does not belong to 
you : I leave this precept with you Be honest." 
At the age of ten Livingstone was sent to work 
in a cotton factory near Glasgow as a " piecer." 
With part of his first week's wages he bought a 
Latin grammar, and began to learn that language, 
pursuing the study for years at a night school. He 
would sit up conning his lessons till twelve or 
later, when not sent to bed by his mother, for he 
had to be up and at work in the factory every 
morning by six. In this way he plodded through 
Virgil and Horace, also reading extensively all 
books, excepting novels, that came in his way, 
but more especially scientific works and books of 
travels. He occupied his spare hours, which were but 
few, in the pursuit of botany, scouring the neigh- 
bourhood to collect plants. He even carried on his 
reading amidst the roar of the factory machinery, 
so placing the book upon the spinning jenny which 
he worked that he could catch sentence after 
sentence as he passed it. In this way the per- 
severing youth acquired much useful knowledge; 
and as he grew older, the desire possessed him of 
becoming a missionary to the heathen. With this 
object he set himself to obtain a medical education, 
in order the better to be qualified for the work. 
He accordingly economized his earnings, and saved 
as much money as enabled him to support himself 
while attending the medical and Greek classes, 


as well as the Divinity Lectures, at Glasgow, for 
several winters, working as a cotton spinner during 
the remainder of each year. He thus supported 
himself, during his college career, entirely by his 
own earnings as a factory workman, never having 
received a farthing of help from any other source. 
" Looking back now," he honestly says, " at that 
life of toil, I cannot but feel thankful that it formed 
such a material part of my early education; and, 
were it possible, I should like to begin life over 
again in the same lowly style, and to pass through 
the same hardy training." At length he finished 
his medical curriculum, wrote his Latin thesis, 
passed his examinations, and was admitted a 
licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Sur- 
geons. At first he thought of going to China, but 
the war then waging with that country prevented 
his following out the idea; and having offered his 
services to the London Missionary Society, he was 
by them sent out to Africa, which he reached in 
1840. He had intended to proceed to China by 
his own efforts ; and he says the only pang he had 
in going to Africa at the charge of the London 
Missionary Society was, because " it was not quite 
agreeable to one accustomed to work his own way 
to become, in a manner, dependent upon others." 
Arrived in Africa he set to work with great zeal. 
He could not brook the idea of merely entering 
upon the labours of others, but cut out a large 
sphere of independent work, preparing himself for 
it by undertaking manual labour in building and 
other handicraft employment, in addition to teach- 
ing, which, he says, " made me generally as much 
exhausted and unfit for study in the evenings as 
ever I had been when a cotton-spinner." Whilst 


labouring amongst the Bechuanas, he dug canals, 
built houses, cultivated fields, reared cattle, and 
taught the natives to work as well as worship. 
When he first started with a party of them on foot 
upon a long journey, he overheard their observa- 
tions upon his appearance and powers " He is not 
strong," said they ; " he is quite slim, and only 
appears stout because he puts himself into those 
bags (trousers): he will soon knock up." This 
caused the missionary's Highland blood to rise, and 
made him despise the fatigue of keeping them all 
at the top of their speed for days together, until he 
heard them expressing proper opinions of his 
pedestrian powers. What he did in Africa, and 
how he worked, may be learnt from his own 
' Missionary Travels,' one of the most fascinating 
books of its kind that has ever been given to the 
public. One of his last known acts is thoroughly 
characteristic of the man. The ' Birkenhead ' steam 
launch, which he took out with him to Africa, 
having proved a failure, he sent home orders for 
the construction of another vessel at an estimated 
cost of 2ooo/. This sum he proposed to defray out 
of the means which he had set aside for his children 
arising from the profits of his books of travels. 
"The children must make it up themselves," was 
in effect his expression in sending home the order 
for the appropriation of the money. 

The career of John Howard was throughout a 
striking illustration of the same power of patient 
purpose. His sublime life proved that even phy- 
sical weakness could remove the mountains in the 
pursuit of an end recommended by duty. The idea 
of ameliorating the condition of prisoners engrossed 
his whole thoughts and possessed him like a 


passion ; and no toil, nor danger, nor bodily suffer- 
ing could turn him from that great object of his 
life. Though a man of no genius and but moderate 
talent, his heart was pure and his will was strong. 
Even in his own time he achieved a remarkable 
degree of success; and his influence did not die 
with him, for it has continued powerfully to affect 
not only the legislation of England, but of all 
civilized nations, down to the present hour. 

Jonas Hanway was another of the many patient 
and persevering men who have made England 
what it is content simply to do with energy the 
work they have been appointed to do, and go to 
their rest thankfully when it is done 

"Leaving no memorial but a world 
Made better by their lives." 

He was born in 1712, at Portsmouth, where his 
father, a storekeeper in the dockyard, being killed 
by an accident, he was left an orphan at an early age. 
His mother removed with her children to London, 
where she had them put to school, and struggled 
hard to bring them up respectably. At seventeen 
Jonas was sent to Lisbon to be apprenticed to 
a merchant, where his close attention to business, 
his punctuality, and his strict honour and integrity 
gained for him the respect and esteem of all who 
knew him. Returning to London in 1743, he ac- 
cepted the offer of a partnership in an English 
mercantile house at St. Petersburg engaged in 
the Caspian trade, then in its infancy. Hanway 
went to Russia for the purpose of extending the 
business ; and shortly after his arrival at the capital 
he set out for Persia, with a caravan of English 
bales of cloth making twenty carriage loads. At 


Astracan he sailed for Astrabad, on the south- 
eastern shore of the Caspian ; but he had scarcely 
landed his bales, when an insurrection broke out, 
his goods were seized, and though he afterwards 
recovered the principal part of them, the fruits 
of his enterprise were in a great measure lost. 
A plot was set on foot to seize himself and his 
party; so he took to sea and, after encountering 
great perils, reached Ghilan in safety. His escape 
on this occasion gave him the first idea of the 
words which he afterwards adopted as the motto 
of his life " Never Despair" He afterwards re- 
sided in St. Petersburg for five years, carrying 
on a prosperous business. But a relative having 
left him some property, and his own means being 
considerable, he left Russia, and arrived in his 
native country in 1750. His object in returning 
to England was, as he himself expressed it, "to 
consult his own health (which was extremely 
delicate), and do as much good to himself and 
others as he was able." The rest of his life was 
spent in deeds of active benevolence and usefulness 
to his fellow men. He lived in a quiet style, in 
order that he might employ a larger share of his 
income in works of benevolence. One of the first 
public improvements to which he devoted himself 
was that of the highways of the metropolis, in 
which he succeeded to a large extent. The rumour 
of a French invasion being prevalent in 1755, Mr. 
Hanway turned his attention to the best mode 
of keeping up the supply of seamen. He summoned 
a meeting of merchants and shipowners at the 
Royal Exchange, and there proposed to them to 
form themselves into a society for fitting out lands- 
men volunteers and boys, to serve on board the 



king's ships. The proposal was received with 
enthusiasm : a society was formed, and officers 
were appointed, Mr. Hanway directing its entire 
operations. The result was the establishment in 
1756 of The Marine Society, an institution which 
has proved of much national advantage, and is to 
this day of great and substantial utility. Within 
six years from its formation, 5451 boys and 4787 
landsmen volunteers had been trained and fitted 
out by the society and added to the navy, and to 
this day it is in active operation, about 600 poor 
boys, after a careful education, being annually 
apprenticed as sailors, principally in the merchant 

Mr. Hanway devoted the other portions of his 
spare time to improving or establishing important 
public institutions in the metropolis. From an 
early period he took an active interest in the 
Foundling Hospital, which had been started by 
Thomas Coram many years before, but which, by 
encouraging parents to abandon their children to 
the charge of a charity, was threatening to do 
more harm than good. He determined to take 
steps to stem the evil, entering upon the work in 
the face of the fashionable philanthropy of the 
time ; but by holding to his purpose he eventually 
succeeded in bringing the charity back to its 
proper objects ; and time and experience have 
proved that he was right. The Magdalen Hospital 
was also established in a great measure through 
Mr. Hanway's exertions. But his most laborious 
and persevering efforts were in behalf of the infant 
parish poor. The misery and neglect amidst which 
the children of the parish poor then grew up, and 
the mortality which prevailed amongst them, were 


frightful; but there was no fashionable movement 
on foot to abate the suffering, as in the case of the 
foundlings. So Jonas Hanway summoned his 
energies to the task. Alone and unassisted he first 
ascertained by personal inquiry the extent of the 
evil. He explored the dwellings of the poorest 
classes in London, and visited the poorhouse sick 
wards, by which he ascertained the management 
in detail of every workhouse in and near the 
metropolis. He next made a journey into France 
and through Holland, visiting the houses for the 
reception of the poor, and noting whatever he 
thought might be adopted at home with advantage. 
He was thus employed for five years ; and on his 
return to England he published the results of his 
observations. The consequence was that many of 
the workhouses were reformed and improved. In 
1761 he obtained an Act obliging every London 
parish to keep an annual register of all the infants 
received, discharged, and dead ; and he took care 
that the Act should work, for he himself superin- 
tended its working with indefatigable watchfulness. 
He went about from workhouse to workhouse in the 
morning, and from one member of parliament to 
another in the afternoon, for day after day, and for 
year after year, enduring every rebuff, answering 
every objection, and accommodating himself to 
every humour. At length, after a perseverance 
hardly to be equalled, and after nearly ten years' 
labour, he obtained another Act, at his sole expense 
(7 Geo. III. c. 39), directing that all parish infants 
belonging to the parishes within the bills of 
mortality should not be nursed in the workhouses, 
but be sent to nurse a certain number of miles out 
of town until they were six years old, under the 

292 JONAS HANWAY [CHAP, vi it 

care of guardians to be elected triennially. The 
poor people called this " the Act for keeping 
children alive " ; and the registers for the years 
which followed its passing, as compared with those 
which preceded it, showed that thousands of lives 
had been preserved through the judicious inter- 
ference of this good and sensible man. 

Wherever a philanthropic work was to be done 
in London, be sure that Jonas Hanway's hand was 
in it. One of the first Acts for the protection of 
chimney-sweepers' boys was obtained through his 
influence. A destructive fire at Montreal, and 
another at Bridgetown, Barbadoes, afforded him 
the opportunity for raising a timely subscription 
for the relief of the sufferers. His name appeared 
in every list, and his disinterestedness and sincerity 
were universally recognized. But he was not 
suffered to waste his little fortune entirely in the 
service of others. Five leading citizens of London, 
headed by Mr. Hoare, the banker, without Mr. 
Hanway's knowledge, waited on Lord Bute, then 
Prime Minister, in a body, and in the names of 
their fellow-citizens requested that some notice 
might be taken of this good man's disinterested 
services to his country. The result was, his 
appointment shortly after as one of the commis- 
sioners for victualling the navy. 

Towards the close of his life Mr. Hanway's 
health became very feeble, and although he found 
it necessary to resign his office at the Victualling- 
Board, he could not be idle; but laboured at the 
establishment of Sunday Schools, a movement 
then in its infancy, or in relieving poor blacks, 
many of whom wandered destitute about the streets 
of the metropolis, or in alleviating the sufferings 


of some neglected and destitute class of society. 
Notwithstanding his familiarity with misery in all 
its shapes, he was one of the most cheerful of 
beings ; and but for his cheerfulness! he could 
never, with so delicate a frame, have got through 
so vast an amount of self-imposed work. He 
dreaded nothing so much as inactivity. Though 
fragile, he was bold and indefatigable ; and his 
moral courage was of the first order. It may be 
regarded as a trivial matter to mention that he was 
the first who ventured to walk the streets of London 
with an umbrella over his head. But let any 
modern London merchant venture to walk along 
Cornhill in a peaked Chinese hat, and he will find 
it takes some degree of moral courage to persevere 
in it. After carrying an umbrella for thirty years, 
Mr. Hanway saw the article at length come into 
general use. 

Hanway was a man of strict honour, truthfulness, 
and integrity; and every word he said might be 
relied upon. He had so great a respect, amounting 
almost to a reverence, for the character of the 
honest merchant, that it was the only subject upon 
which he was ever seduced into a eulogium. He 
strictly practised what he professed, and both as 
a merchant, and afterwards as a commissioner for 
victualling the navy, his conduct was without stain. 
He would not accept the slightest favour of any 
sort from a contractor ; and when any present was 
sent to him whilst at the Victualling Office, he 
would politely return it, with the intimation that 
" he had made it a rule not to accept anything from 
any person engaged with the office." When he 
found his powers failing, he prepared for death 
with as much cheerfulness as he would have 


prepared himself for a journey into the country. 
He sent round and paid all his tradesmen, took leave 
of his friends, arranged his affairs, had his person 
neatly disposed of, and parted with life serenely 
and peacefully in his 74th year. The property 
which he left did not amount to two thousand 
pounds, and, as he had no relatives who wanted it, 
he divided it amongst sundry orphans and poor 
persons whom he had befriended during his life- 
time. Such, in brief, was the beautiful life of Jonas 
Hanway, as honest, energetic, hard-working, and 
true-hearted a man as ever lived. 

The life of Granville Sharp is another striking 
example of the same power of individual energy 
a power which was afterwards transfused into the 
noble band of workers in the cause of Slavery 
Abolition, prominent among whom were Clarkson, 
Wilberforce, Buxton, and Brougham. But, giants 
though these men were in this cause, Granville 
Sharp was the first, and perhaps the greatest of 
them all, in point of perseverance, energy, and in- 
trepidity. He began life as apprentice to a linen- 
draper on Tower-hill ; but, leaving that business 
after his apprenticeship was out, he next entered as 
a clerk in the Ordnance Office ; and it was while 
engaged in that humble occupation that he carried 
on in his spare hours the work of Negro Emanci- 
pation. He was always, even when an apprentice, 
ready to undertake any amount of volunteer labour 
where a useful purpose was to be served. Thus, 
while learning the linen-drapery business, a fellow 
apprentice who lodged in the same house, and was 
a Unitarian, led him into frequent discussions on 
religious subjects. The Unitarian youth insisted 
that Granville's Trinitarian misconception of certain 


passages of Scripture arose from his want of ac- 
quaintance with the Greek tongue ; on which he 
immediately set to work in his evening hours, 
and shortly acquired an intimate knowledge of 
Greek. A similar controversy with another 
fellow-apprentice, a Jew, as to the interpreta- 
tion of the prophecies, led him in like manner 
to undertake and overcome the difficulties of 

But the circumstance which gave the bias and 
direction to the main labours of his life originated 
in his generosity and benevolence. His brother 
William, a surgeon in Mincing Lane, gave gratuit- 
ous service to the poor, and amongst the numerous 
applicants for relief at his surgery was a poor 
African named Jonathan Strong. It appeared that 
the negro had been brutally treated by his master, 
a Barbadoes lawyer then in London, and became 
lame, almost blind, and unable to work ; on which 
his owner, regarding him as of no further value 
as a chattel, cruelly turned him adrift into the 
streets to starve. This poor man, a mass of disease, 
supported himself by begging for a time, until he 
found his way to William Sharp, who gave him 
some medicine, and shortly after got him admitted 
to St. Bartholomew's hospital, where he was 
cured. On coming out of the hospital, the two 
brothers supported the negro in order to keep 
him off the streets, but they had not the least 
suspicion at the time that any one had a claim 
upon his person. They even succeeded in obtaining 
a situation for Strong with an apothecary, in whose 
service he remained for two years ; and it was 
while he was attending his mistress behind a hack- 
ney coach, that his former owner, the Barbadoes 


lawyer, recognized him, and determined to recover 
possession of the slave, again rendered valuable 
by the restoration of his health. The lawyer 
employed two of the Lord Mayor's officers to 
apprehend Strong, and he was lodged in the 
Compter, until he could be shipped off to the West 
Indies. The negro, bethinking him in his captivity 
of the kind services which Granville Sharp had 
rendered him in his great distress some years 
before, despatched a letter to him requesting his 
help. Sharp had forgotten the name of Strong, 
but he sent a messenger to make inquiries, who 
returned saying that the keepers denied having 
any such person in their charge. His suspicions 
were roused, and he went forthwith to the prison, 
and insisted upon seeing Jonathan Strong. He 
was admitted, and recognized the poor negro, now 
in custody as a recaptured slave. Mr. Sharp 
charged the master of the prison at his own peril 
not to deliver up Strong to any person whatever, 
until he had been carried before the Lord Mayor, 
to whom Sharp immediately went, and obtained 
a summons against those persons who had seized 
and imprisoned Strong without a warrant. The 
parties appeared before the Lord Mayor accordingly, 
and it appeared from the proceedings that Strong's 
former master had already sold him to a new one, 
who produced the bill of sale and claimed the 
negro as his property. As no charge of offence 
was made against Strong, and as the Lord Mayor 
was incompetent to deal with the legal question 
of Strong's liberty or otherwise, he discharged him, 
and the slave followed his benefactor out of court, 
no one daring to touch him. The man's owner 
immediately gave Sharp notice of an action to 


recover possession of his negro slave, of whom he 
declared he had been robbed. 

About that time (1767) the personal liberty of 
the Englishman, though cherished as a theory, was 
subject to grievous infringements, and was almost 
daily violated. The impressment of men for the 
sea service was constantly practised, and, besides 
the press-gangs, there were regular bands of kid- 
nappers employed in London and all the large 
towns of the kingdom, to seize men for the East 
India Company's service. And when the men 
were not wanted for India, they were shipped off 
to the planters in the American colonies. Negro 
slaves were openly advertised for sale in the 
London and Liverpool newspapers. Rewards were 
offered for recovering and securing fugitive slaves, 
and conveying them down to certain specified ships 
in the river. 

The position of the reputed slave in England 
was undefined and doubtful. The judgments which 
had been given in the courts of law were fluctuating 
and various, resting on no settled principle. Al- 
though it was a popular belief that no slave could 
breathe in England, there were legal men of 
eminence who expressed a directly contrary opinion. 
The lawyers to whom Mr. Sharp resorted for 
advice, in defending himself in the action raised 
against him in the case of Jonathan Strong, generally 
concurred in this view, and he was further told 
by Jonathan Strong's owner, that the eminent Lord 
Chief Justice Mansfield, and all the leading counsel, 
were decidedly of opinion that the slave, by coming 
into England, did not become free, but might legally 
be compelled to return again to the plantations. 
Such information would have caused despair in 


a mind less courageous and earnest than that of 
Granville Sharp; but it only served to stimulate 
his resolution to fight the battle of the negroes' 
freedom, at least in England. " Forsaken/' he said, 
"by my professional defenders, I was compelled, 
through the want of regular legal assistance, to 
make a hopeless attempt at self-defence, though 
I was totally unacquainted either with the practice 
of the law or the foundations of it, having never 
opened a law book (except the Bible) in my life, 
until that time, when I most reluctantly undertook 
to search the indexes of a law library, which my 
bookseller had lately purchased." 

The whole of his time during the day was occu- 
pied with the business of the Ordnance Department, 
where he held the most laborious post in the office ; 
he was therefore under the necessity of conducting 
his new studies late at night or early in the 
morning. He confessed that he was himself be- 
coming a sort of slave. Writing to a clerical friend 
to excuse himself for delay in replying to a letter, 
he said, "I profess myself entirely incapable of 
holding a literary correspondence. What little 
time I have been able to save from sleep at night, 
and early in the morning, has been necessarily 
employed in the examination of some points of 
law, which admitted of no delay, and yet required 
the most diligent researches and examination in 
my study." 

Mr. Sharp gave up every leisure moment that 
he could command during the next two years to 
the close study of the laws of England affecting 
personal liberty, wading through an immense 
mass of dry and repulsive literature, and making 
extracts of all the most important Acts of Parlia- 


ment, decisions of the courts, and opinions of 
eminent lawyers as he went along. In. this tedious 
and protracted inquiry he had no instructor, nor 
assistant, nor adviser. He could not find a single 
lawyer whose opinion was favourable to his under- 
taking. The results of his inquiries were, however, 
as gratifying to himself as they were surprising 
to the gentlemen of the law. "God be thanked," 
he wrote, "there is nothing in any English law 
or statute at least that I am able to find out 
that can justify the enslaving of others." He had 
planted his foot firm, and now he doubted nothing. 
He drew up the result of his studies in a summary 
form ; it was a plain, clear, and manly statement, 
entitled, 'On the Injustice of Tolerating Slavery 
in England ' ; and numerous copies, made by him- 
self, were circulated by him amongst the most 
eminent lawyers of the time. Strong's owner, 
finding the sort of man he had to deal with, invented 
various pretexts for deferring the suit against 
Sharp, and at length offered a compromise, which 
was rejected. Granville went on circulating his 
manuscript tract among the lawyers, until at length 
those employed against Jonathan Strong were de- 
terred from proceeding further, and the result was, 
that the plaintiff was compelled to pay treble costs 
for not bringing forward his action. The tract 
was then printed in 1769. 

In the meantime other cases occurred of the 
kidnapping of negroes in London, and their ship- 
ment to the West Indies for sale. Wherever 
Sharp could lay hold of any such case, he at once 
took proceedings to rescue the negro. Thus the 
wife of one Hylas, an African, was seized, and 
despatched to Barbadoes ; on which Sharp, in the 


name of Hylas, instituted legal proceedings against 
the aggressor, obtained a verdict with damages, 
and Hylas's wife was brought back to England 

Another forcible capture of a negro, attended 
with great cruelty, having occurred in 1770, he 
immediately set himself on the track of the 
aggressors. An African, named Lewis, was seized 
one dark night by two watermen employed by the 
person who claimed the negro as his property, 
dragged into the water, hoisted into a boat, where 
he was gagged and his limbs were tied ; and then, 
rowing down river, they put him on board a ship 
bound for Jamaica, where he was to be sold for a 
slave upon his arrival in the island. The cries of 
the poor negro had, however, attracted the attention 
of some neighbours, one of whom proceeded direct 
to Mr. Granville Sharp, now known as the negro's 
friend, and informed him of the outrage. Sharp 
immediately got a warrant to bring back Lewis, 
and he proceeded to Gravesend, but on arrival 
there the ship had sailed for the Downs. A 
writ of Habeas Corpus was obtained, sent down 
to Spitfiead, and before the ship could leave the 
shores of England the writ was served. The 
slave was found chained to the main-mast, bathed 
in tears, casting mournful looks on the land from 
which he was about to be torn. He was imme- 
diately liberated, brought back to London, and a 
warrant was issued against the author of the 
outrage. The promptitude of head, heart, and 
hand displayed by Mr. Sharp in this transaction 
could scarcely have been surpassed, and yet he 
accused himself of slowness. The case was tried 
before Lord Mansfield whose opinion, it will be 


remembered, had already been expressed as de- 
cidedly opposed to that entertained by Granville 
Sharp. The judge, however, avoided bringing the 
question to an issue, or offering any opinion on the 
legal question as to the slave's personal liberty 
or otherwise, but discharged the negro because the 
defendant could bring no evidence that Lewis was 
even nominally his property. 

The question of the personal liberty of the 
negro in England was therefore still undecided ; 
but in the meantime Mr. Sharp continued steadily 
in his benevolent course, and by his indefatigable 
exertions and promptitude of action many more 
were added to the list of the rescued. At length 
the important case of James Somerset occurred ; a 
case which is said to have been selected, at the 
mutual desire of Lord Mansfield and Mr. Sharp, 
in order to bring the great question involved to a 
clear legal issue. Somerset had been brought to 
England by his master, and left there. Afterwards 
his master sought to apprehend him and send him 
off to Jamaica for sale. Mr. Sharp, as usual, at 
once took the negro's case in hand, and employed 
counsel to defend him. Lord Mansfield intimated 
that the case was of such general concern, that he 
should take the opinion of all the judges upon it. 
Mr. Sharp now felt that he would have to contend 
with all the force that could be brought against him, 
but his resolution was in no wise shaken. Fortu- 
nately for him, in this severe struggle, his exertions 
had already begun to tell ; increasing interest was 
taken in the question, and many eminent legal 
gentlemen openly declared themselves to be upon 
his side. 

The cause of personal liberty, now at stake, was 


fairly tried before Lord Mansfield, assisted by the 
three justices and tried on the broad principle 
of the essential and constitutional right of every 
man in England to the liberty of his person, unless 
forfeited by the law. It is unnecessary here to 
enter into any account of this great trial ; the 
arguments extended to a great length, the cause 
being carried over to another term, when it was 
adjourned and re-adjourned, but at length judg- 
ment was given by Lord Mansfield, in whose 
powerful mind so gradual a change had been 
worked by the arguments of counsel, based mainly 
on Granville Sharp's tract, that he now declared 
the court to be so clearly of one opinion, that there 
was no necessity for referring the case to the 
twelve judges. He then declared that the claim 
of slavery never can be supported ; that the power 
claimed never was in use in England, nor acknow- 
ledged by the law; therefore the man James 
Somerset must be discharged. By securing this 
judgment Granville Sharp effectually abolished the 
slave trade until then carried on openly in the 
streets of Liverpool and London. But he also 
firmly established the glorious axiom, that as soon 
as any slave sets his foot on English ground, that 
moment he becomes free; and there can be no 
doubt that this great decision of Lord Mansfield 
was mainly owing to Mr. Sharp's firm, resolute, 
and intrepid prosecution of the cause from the 
beginning to the end. 

It is unnecessary further to follow the career 
of Granville Sharp. He continued to labour inde- 
fatigably in all good works. He was instrumental 
in founding the colony of Sierra Leone as an 
asylum for rescued negroes. He laboured to 


ameliorate the condition of the native Indians in 
the American colonies. He agitated the enlarge- 
ment and extension of the political rights of the 
English people ; and he endeavoured to effect the 
abolition of the impressment of seamen. Granville 
held that the British seaman, as well as the African 
negro, was entitled to the protection of the law ; 
and that the fact of his choosing a seafaring life did 
not in any way cancel his rights and privileges as 
an Englishman first amongst which he ranked 
personal freedom. Mr. Sharp also laboured, but 
ineffectually, to restore amity between England and 
her colonies in America ; and when the fratricidal 
war of the American Revolution was entered on, 
his sense of integrity was so scrupulous that, 
resolving not in any way to be concerned in so 
unnatural a business, he resigned his situation at 
the Ordnance Office. 

To the last he held to the great object of his 
life the abolition of slavery. To carry on this 
work, and organize the efforts of the growing 
friends of the cause, the Society for the Abolition 
of Slavery was founded, and new men, inspired by 
Sharp's example and zeal, sprang forward to help 
him. His energy became theirs, and the self- 
sacrificing zeal in which he had so long laboured 
single-handed became at length transfused into the 
nation itself. His mantle fell upon Clarkson, upon 
Wilberforce, upon Brougham, and upon Buxton, 
who laboured as he had done, with like energy and 
steadfastness of purpose, until at length slavery was 
abolished throughout the British Dominions. But 
though the names last mentioned may be more 
frequently identified with the triumph of this great 
cause, the chief merit unquestionably belongs to 


Granville Sharp. He was encouraged by none of 
the world's huzzas when he entered upon his work. 
He stood alone, opposed to the opinion of the 
ablest lawyers and the most rooted prejudices of 
the times ; and alone he fought out, by his single 
exertions, and at his individual expense, the most 
memorable battle for the constitution of this 
country and the liberties of British subjects of 
which modern times afford a record. What 
followed was mainly the consequence of his 
indefatigable constancy. He lighted the torch 
which kindled other minds, and it was handed on 
until the illumination became complete. 

Before the death of Granville Sharp, Clarkson 
had already turned his attention to the question 
of negro slavery. He had even selected it for 
the subject of a college essay ; and his mind 
became so possessed by it that he could not shake 
it off. The spot is pointed out near Wade's Mill, in 
Hertfordshire, where, alighting from his horse one 
day, he sat down disconsolate on the turf by the 
road side, and, after long thinking, determined to 
devote himself wholly to the work. He translated 
his essay from Latin into English, added fresh illus- 
trations, and published it. Then fellow labourers 
gathered around him. The Society for Abolishing 
the Slave Trade, unknown to him, had already 
been formed, and when he heard of it he joined it. 
He sacrificed all his prospects in life to prosecute 
this cause. Wilberforce was selected to lead in 
Parliament ; but upon Clarkson chiefly devolved 
the labour of collecting and arranging the immense 
mass of evidence offered in support of the aboli- 
tion. A remarkable instance of Clarkson's sleuth- 
hound sort of perseverance may be mentioned. 


The abettors of slavery, in the course of their 
defence of the system, maintained that only such 
negroes as were captured in battle were sold as 
slaves, and, if not so sold, then they were reserved 
for a still more frightful doom in their own country. 
Clarkson knew of the slave-hunts conducted by 
the slave-traders, but had no witnesses to prove 
it. Where was one to be found? Accidentally, 
a gentleman whom he met on one of his journeys 
informed him of a young sailor, in whose company 
he had been about a year before, who had been 
actually engaged in one of such slave-hunting expe- 
ditions. The gentleman did not know his name, 
and could but indefinitely describe his person, 
He did not know where he was, further than that 
he belonged to a ship of war in ordinary, but at 
what port he could not tell. With this mere 
glimmering of information, Clarkson determined to 
produce this man as a witness. He visited per- 
sonally all the seaport towns where ships in ordinary 
lay ; boarded and examined every ship without 
success, until he came to the very last port, and 
found the young man, his prize, in the very last 
ship that remained to be visited. The young man 
proved to be one of his most valuable and effective 

During several years Clarkson conducted a 
correspondence with upwards of four hundred 
persons, travelling more than thirty-five thousand 
miles during the same time in search of evidence. 
He was at length disabled and exhausted by illness, 
brought on by his continuous exertions : but he was 
not borne from the field until his zeal had fully 
awakened the public mind, and excited the ardent 
sympathies of all good men on behalf of the slave. 



After years of protracted struggle, the slave 
trade was abolished. But still another great 
achievement remained to be accomplished the 
abolition of slavery itself throughout the British 
dominions. And here again determined energy 
won the day. Of the leaders in the cause, none 
was more distinguished than Fowell Buxton, who 
took the position formerly occupied by Wilberforce 
in the House of Commons. Buxton was a dull, 
heavy boy, distinguished for his strong self-will, 
which first exhibited itself in violent, domineering, 
and headstrong obstinacy. His father died when 
he was a child ; but fortunately he had a wise 
mother, who trained his will with great care, con- 
straining him to obey, but encouraging the habit 
of deciding and acting for himself in matters which 
might safely be left to him. His mother believed 
that a strong will, directed upon worthy objects, 
was a valuable manly quality if properly guided, 
and she acted accordingly When others about 
her commented on the boy's self-will, she would 
merely say, " Never mind he is self-willed now 
you will see it will turn out well in the end." 
Fowell learnt very little at school, and was regarded 
as a dunce and an idler. He got other boys to 
do his exercises for him, while he romped and 
scrambled about. He returned home at fifteen, 
a great, growing, awkward lad, fond only of boating, 
shooting, riding, and field sports spending his 
time principally with the gamekeeper, a man pos- 
sessed of a good heart an intelligent observer 
of life and nature, though he could neither read 
nor write. Buxton had excellent raw material in 
him, but he wanted culture, training, and develop- 
ment. At this juncture of his life, when his habits 


were being formed for good or evil, he was happily 
thrown into the society of the Gurney family, 
distinguished for their fine social qualities not less 
than for their intellectual culture and public-spirited 
philanthropy. This intercourse with the Gurneys, 
he used afterwards to say, gave the colouring to his 
life. They encouraged his efforts at self-culture; 
and when he went to the University of Dublin 
and gained high honours there, the animating 
passion in his mind, he said, "was to carry back 
to them the prizes which they prompted and enabled 
me to win." He married one of the daughters 
of the family, and started in life, commencing as a 
clerk to his uncles Hanbury, the London brewers. 
His power of will, which made him so difficult 
to deal with as a boy, now formed the backbone 
of his character, and made him most indefatigable 
and energetic in whatever he undertook. He 
threw his whole strength and bulk right down 
upon his work ; and the great giant " Elephant 
Buxton" they called him, for he stood some six 
feet four in height became one of the most 
vigorous and practical of men. "I could brew," 
he said, "one hour, do mathematics the next, 
and shoot the next, and each with my whole 
soul." There was invincible energy and deter- 
mination in whatever he did. Admitted a partner, 
he became the active manager of the concern ; 
and the vast business which he conducted felt his 
influence through every fibre, and prospered far 
beyond its previous success. Nor did he allow 
his mind to lie fallow, for he gave his evenings 
diligently to self-culture, studying and digesting 
Blackstone, Montesquieu, and solid commentaries 
on English law. His maxims in reading 1 were, 


"never to begin a book without finishing it"; 
"never to consider a book finished until it is 
mastered"; and "to study everything with the 
whole mind." 

When only thirty-two, Buxton entered Parlia- 
ment, and at once assumed that position of influence 
there of which every honest, earnest, well-informed 
man is secure who enters that assembly of the 
first gentlemen in the world. The principal question 
to which he devoted himself was complete emanci- 
pation of the slaves in the British colonies. He 
himself used to attribute the interest which he early 
felt in this question to the influence of Priscilla 
Gurney, one of the Earlham family a woman of a 
fine intellect and warm heart, abounding in illus- 
trious virtues. When on her deathbed, in 1821, 
she repeatedly sent for Buxton, and urged him 
"to make the cause of the slaves the great object 
of his life." Her last act was to attempt to reiterate 
the solemn charge, and she expired in the in- 
effectual effort. Buxton never forgot her counsel; 
he named one of his daughters after her; and 
on the day on which she was married from his 
house, on the ist of August, 1834 the day of 
negro emancipation after his Priscilla had been 
manumitted from her filial service, and left her 
father's home in the company of her husband, 
Buxton sat down and thus wrote to a friend : 
"The bride is just gone; everything has passed 
off to admiration; and there is not a slave in the 
British colonies f " 

Buxton was no genius not a great intellectual 
leader nor discoverer, but mainly an earnest, 
straightforward, resolute, energetic man. Indeed, 
his whole character is most forcibly expressed in 


his own words, which every young man might 
well stamp upon his soul: "The longer I live," 
said he, "the more I am certain that the great 
difference between men, between the feeble and the 
powerful, the great and the insignificant, is energy 
invincible determination a purpose once fixed, 
and then death or victory ! That quality will do 
anything that can be done in this world ; and no 
talents, no circumstances, no opportunities, will 
make a two-legged creature a Man without it." 



" Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before 
kings." Proverbs of Solomon. 

" That man is but of the lower part of the world that is not brought 
up to business affairs." Owen Felt ham. 

HAZLITT, in one of his clever essays, repre- 
sents the man of business as a mean sort 
of person put in a go-cart, yoked to a trade 
or profession ; alleging that all he has to do is, 
not to go out of the beaten track, but merely to 
let his affairs take their own course. " The great 
requisite," he says, " for the prosperous manage- 
ment of ordinary business is the want of imagination, 
or of any ideas but those of custom and interest 
on the narrowest scale." * But nothing could be 
more one-sided, and in effect untrue, than such 
a definition. Of course, there are narrow-minded 
men of business, as there are narrow-minded 
scientific men, literary men, and legislators ; but 
there are also business men of large and com- 
prehensive minds, capable of action on the very 
largest scale. As Burke said in his speech on the 
India Bill, he knew statesmen who were peddlers, 
and merchants who acted in the spirit of statesmen. 

* On ' Thought and Action.' 


If we take into account the qualities necessary 
for the successful conduct of any important under- 
taking, that it requires special aptitude, prompti- 
tude of action on emergencies, capacity for 
organizing the labours often of large numbers of 
men, great tact and knowledge of human nature, 
constant self-culture, and growing experience in 
the practical affairs of life, it must, we think, 
be obvious that the school of business is by no 
means so narrow as some writers would have us 
believe. Mr. Helps has gone much nearer the 
truth when he said that consummate men of 
business are as rare almost as great poets rarer, 
perhaps, than veritable saints and martyrs. In- 
deed, of no other pursuit can it so emphatically 
be said, as of this, that " Business makes men." 

It has, however, been a favourite fallacy with 
dunces in all times, that men of genius are unfitted 
for business, as well as that business occupations 
unfit men for the pursuits of genius. The unhappy 
youth who committed suicide a few years since 
because he had been " born to be a man and 
condemned to be a grocer," proved by the act that 
his soul was not equal even to the dignity of 
grocery. For it is not the calling that degrades 
the man, but the man that degrades the calling. 
All work that brings honest gain is honourable, 
whether it be of hand or mind. The fingers may 
be soiled, yet the heart remain pure ; for it is not 
material so much as moral dirt that defiles greed 
far more than grime, and vice than verdigris. 

The greatest have not disdained to labour 
honestly and usefully for a living, though at the 
same time aiming after higher things. Thales, the 
first of the seven sages, Solon, the second founder 


of Athens, and Hyperates, the mathematician, were 
all traders. Plato, called the Divine by reason of 
the excellence of his wisdom, defrayed his travelling 
expenses in Egypt by the profits derived from the 
oil which he sold during his journey. Spinoza 
maintained himself by polishing glasses while he 
pursued his philosophical investigations. Linnaeus, 
the great botanist, prosecuted his studies while 
hammering leather and making shoes. Shakespeare 
was a successful manager of a theatre perhaps 
priding himself more upon his practical qualities 
in that capacity than on his writing of plays and 
poetry. Pope was of opinion that Shakespeare's 
principal object in cultivating literature was to 
secure an honest independence. Indeed, he seems 
to have been altogether indifferent to literary 
reputation. It is not known that he superintended 
the publication of a single play, or even sanctioned 
the printing of one; and the chronology of his 
writings is still a mystery. It is certain, however, 
that he prospered in his business, and realized 
sufficient to enable him to retire upon a competency 
to his native town of Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Chaucer was in early life a soldier, and after- 
wards an effective Commissioner of Customs, and 
Inspector of Woods and Crown Lands. Spencer 
was Secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, was 
afterwards Sheriff of Cork, and is said to have been 
shrewd and attentive in matters of business. 
Milton, originally a schoolmaster, was elevated to 
the post of Secretary to the Council of State during 
the Commonwealth; and the extant Order-book 
of the Council, as well as many of Milton's letters 
which are preserved, give abundant evidence of 
his activity and usefulness in that office. Sir Isaac 


Newton proved himself an efficient Master of the 
Mint ; the new coinage of 1694 having been carried 
on under his immediate personal superintendence. 
Cowper prided himself upon his business punctu- 
ality, though he confessed that he " never knew a 
poet, except himself, who was punctual in anything." 
But against this we may set the lives of Words- 
worth and Scott the former a distributor of 
stamps, the latter a clerk to the Court of Session, 
both of whom, though great poets, were emi- 
nently punctual and practical men of business. 
David Ricardo, amidst the occupations of his daily 
business as a London stock-jobber, in conducting 
which he acquired an ample fortune, was able 
to concentrate his mind upon his favourite subject 
on which he was enabled to throw great light 
the principles of political economy ; for he united 
in himself the sagacious commercial man and the 
profound philosopher. Baily, the eminent as- 
tronomer, was another stockbroker ; and Allen, 
the chemist, was a silk manufacturer. 

We have abundant illustrations, in our own day, 
of the fact that the highest intellectual power is not 
incompatible with the active and efficient perform- 
ance of routine duties. Grote, the great historian 
of Greece, was a London banker. And it is not 
long since John Stuart Mill, one of our greatest 
living thinkers, retired from the examiner's depart- 
ment of the East India Company, carrying with him 
the admiration and esteem of his fellow officers, 
not on account of his high views of philosophy, 
but because of the high standard of efficiency which 
he had established in his office, and the thoroughly 
satisfactory manner in which he had conducted 
the business of his department. 


The path of success in business is usually the 
path of common sense. Patient labour and appli- 
cation are as necessary here as in the acquisition 
of knowledge or the pursuit of science. The old 
Greeks said, " to become an able man in any 
profession, three things are necessary nature, 
study, and practice." In business, practice, wisely 
and diligently improved, is the great secret of 
success. Some may make what are called "lucky 
hits," but, like money earned by gambling, such 
" hits " may only serve to lure one to ruin. Bacon 
was accustomed to say that it was in business as in 
ways the nearest way was commonly the foulest, 
and that if a man would go the fairest way he must 
go somewhat about. The journey may occupy a 
longer time, but the pleasure of the labour involved 
by it, and the enjoyment of the results produced, 
will be more genuine and unalloyed. To have a 
daily appointed task of even common drudgery to 
do makes the rest of life feel all the sweeter. 

The fable of the labours of Hercules is the type 
of all human doing and success. Every youth 
should be made to feel that his happiness and well- 
doing in life must necessarily rely mainly on him- 
self and the exercise of his. own energies, rather 
than upon the help and patronage of others. The 
late Lord Melbourne embodied a piece of useful 
advice in a letter which he wrote to Lord John 
Russell, in reply to an application for a provision 
for one of Moore the poet's sons : " My dear John," 
he said, " I return you Moore's letter. I shall be 
ready to do what you like about it when we have 
the means. I think whatever is done should be 
done for Moore himself. This is more distinct, 
direct, and intelligible. Making a small provision 


for young men is hardly justifiable ; and it is 
of all things the most prejudicial to themselves. 
They think what they have much larger than it 
really is ; and they make no exertion. The young 
should never hear any language but this : ' You 
have your own way to make, and it depends upon 
your own exertions whether you starve or not.' 
Believe me, &c., MELBOURNE." 

Practical industry, wisely and vigorously ap- 
plied, always produces its due effects. It carries 
a man onward, brings out his individual character, 
and stimulates the action of others. All may not 
rise equally, yet each, on the whole, very much 
according to his deserts. " Though all cannot live 
on the piazza," as the Tuscan proverb has it, 
"every one may feel the sun." 

On the whole, it is not good that human nature 
should have the road of life made too easy. Better 
to be under the necessity of working hard and 
faring meanly, than to have everything done ready 
to our hand and a pillow of down to repose upon. 
Indeed, to start in life with comparatively small 
means seems so necessary as a stimulus to work, 
that it may almost be set down as one of the con- 
ditions essential to success in life. Hence, an 
eminent judge, when asked what contributed most 
to success at the bar, replied, "Some succeed 
by great talent, some by high connexions, some 
by miracle, but the majority by commencing with- 
out a shilling." 

We have heard of an architect of considerable 
accomplishments a man who had improved him- 
self by long study, and travel in the classical lands 
of the East who came home to commence the 
practice of his profession. He determined to begin 


anywhere, provided he could be employed; and 
he accordingly undertook a business connected 
with dilapidations, one of the lowest and least 
remunerative departments of the architect's calling. 
But he had the good sense not to be above his 
trade, and he had the resolution to work his way 
upward, so that he only got a fair start. One hot 
day in July a friend found him sitting astride of 
a house roof occupied with his dilapidation busi- 
ness. Drawing his hand across his perspiring 
countenance, he exclaimed, " Here's a pretty busi- 
ness for a man who has been all over Greece!" 
However, he did his work, such as it was, thoroughly 
and well; he persevered until he advanced by 
degrees to more remunerative branches of employ- 
ment, and eventually he rose to the highest walks 
of his profession. 

The necessity of labour may, indeed, be regarded 
as the main root and spring of all that we call 
progress in individuals, and civilization in nations ; 
and it is doubtful whether any heavier curse could 
be imposed on man than the complete gratification 
of all his wishes without effort on his part, leaving 
nothing [for his hopes, desires or struggles. The 
feeling that life is destitute of any motive or 
necessity for action must be of all others the most 
distressing and insupportable to a rational being. 
The Marquis de Spinola asking Sir Horace Vere 
what his brother died of, Sir Horace replied, " He 
died, sir, of having nothing to do." "Alas!" said 
Spinola, " that is enough to kill any general of us 

Those who fail in life are, however, very apt 
to assume a tone of injured innocence, and conclude 
too hastily that everybody excepting themselves 


has had a hand in their personal misfortunes. An 
eminent writer lately published a book in which 
he described his numerous failures in business, 
naively admitting, at the same time, that he was 
ignorant of the multiplication table ; and he came 
to the conclusion that the real cause of his ill- 
success in life was the money-worshipping spirit 
of the age. Lamartine also did not hesitate to 
profess his contempt for arithmetic ; but, had it 
been less, probably we should not have witnessed 
the unseemly spectacle of the admirers of that 
distinguished personage engaged in collecting sub- 
scriptions for his support in his old age. 

Again, some consider themselves born to ill 
luck, and make up their minds that the world in- 
variably goes against them without any fault on 
their own part. We have heard of a person of 
this sort, who went so far as to declare his belief 
that if he had been a hatter people would have been 
born without heads ! There is, however, a Russian 
proverb which says that Misfortune is next door 
to Stupidity ; and it will often be found that men 
who are constantly lamenting their luck are in 
some way or other reaping the consequences of 
their own neglect, mismanagement, improvidence, 
or want of application. Dr. Johnson, who came up 
to London with a single guinea in his pocket, 
and who once accurately described himself in his 
signature to a letter addressed to a noble lord as 
Impransus, or Dinnerless, has honestly said, "All 
the complaints which are made of the world are 
unjust ; I never knew a man of merit neglected ; 
it was generally by his own fault that he failed 
of success." 

Washington Irving, the American author, held 


like views. "As for the talk," said he, "about 
modest merit being neglected, it is too often a cant, 
by which indolent and irresolute men seek to lay 
their want of success at the door of the public. 
Modest merit is, however, too apt to be inactive, 
or negligent, or uninstructed merit. Well matured 
and well disciplined talent is always sure of a 
market, provided it exerts itself; but it must not 
cower at home and expect to be sought for. There 
is a good deal of cant, too, about the success of 
forward and impudent men, while men of retiring 
worth are passed over with neglect. But it usually 
happens that those forward men have that valuable 
quality of promptness and activity without which 
worth is a mere inoperative property. A barking 
dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion." 

Attention, application, accuracy, method, punctu- 
ality, and despatch are the principal qualities 
required for the efficient conduct of business of 
any sort. These, at first sight, may appear to be 
small matters; and yet they are of essential im- 
portance to human happiness, well-being, and use- 
fulness. They are little things, it is true; but 
human life is made up of comparative trifles. It 
is the repetition of little acts which constitute not 
only the sum of human character, but which 
determine the character of nations. And where 
men or nations have broken down, it will almost 
invariably be found that neglect of little things was 
the rock on which they split. Every human being 
has duties to be performed, and, therefore, has need 
of cultivating the capacity for doing them ; whether 
the sphere of action be the management of a house- 
hold, the conduct of a trade or profession, or the 
government of a nation. 


The examples we have already given of great 
workers in various branches of industry, art, and 
science render it unnecessary further to enforce 
the importance of persevering application in any 
department of life. It is the result of every-day 
experience that steady attention to matters of 
detail lies at the root of human progress ; and that 
diligence, above all, is the mother of good luck. 
Accuracy is also of much importance, and an in- 
variable mark of good training in a man. Accuracy 
in observation, accuracy in speech, accuracy in the 
transaction of affairs. What is done in business 
must be done well ; for it is better to accomplish 
perfectly a small amount of work than to half-do 
ten times as much. A wise man used to say, " Stay 
a little, that we may make an end the sooner." 

Too little attention, however, is paid to this 
highly important quality of accuracy. As a man 
eminent in practical science lately observed to us, 
" It is astonishing how few people I have met 
with in the course of my experience who can 
define a fact accurately." Yet, in business affairs, it 
is the manner in which even small matters are 
transacted that often decides men for or against 
you. With virtue, capacity, and good conduct in 
other respects, the person who is habitually inac- 
curate cannot be trusted ; his work has to be gone 
over again; and he thus causes an infinity of 
annoyance, vexation, and trouble. 

It was one of the characteristic qualities of 
Charles James Fox, that he was thoroughly pains- 
taking in all that he did. When appointed Secretary 
of State, being piqued at some observation as to 
his bad writing, he actually took a writing-master, 
and wrote copies like a schoolboy until he had 


sufficiently improved himself. Though a corpulent 
man, he was wonderfully active at picking up cut 
tennis balls, and when asked how he contrived to 
do so, he playfully replied, " Because I am a very 
pains-taking man." The same accuracy in trifling- 
matters was displayed by him in things of greater 
importance; and he acquired his reputation, like 
the painter, by "neglecting nothing." 

Method is essential, and enables a larger amount 
of work to be got through with satisfaction. 
" Method," said the Reverend Richard Cecil, " is 
like packing things in a box ; a good packer will 
get in half as much again as a bad one." Cecil's 
despatch of business was extraordinary, his maxim 
being, "The shortest way to do many things is 
to do only one thing at once " ; and he never left 
a thing undone with a view of recurring to it at a 
period of more leisure. When business pressed, 
he rather chose to encroach on his hours of meals 
and rest than omit any part of his work. De Witt's 
maxim was like Cecil's : " One thing at' a time." 
" If," said he, " I have any necessary despatches to 
make, I think of nothing else till they are finished ; 
if any domestic affairs require my attention, I give 
myself wholly up to them till they are set in order." 

A French minister, who was alike remarkable 
for his despatch of business and his constant at- 
tendance at places of amusement, being asked how 
he contrived to combine both objects, replied, 
11 Simply by never postponing till to-morrow what 
should be done to-day." Lord Brougham has said 
that a certain English statesman reversed the pro- 
cess, and that his maxim was, never to transact 
to-day what could be postponed till to-morrow. 
Unhappily, such is the practice of many besides 


that minister, already almost forgotten ; the practice 
is that of the indolent and the unsuccessful. Such 
men, too, are apt to rely upon agents, who are 
not always to be relied upon. Important affairs 
must be attended to in person. " If you want your 
business done," says the proverb, " go and do it ; 
if you don't want it done, send some one else." 

An indolent country gentleman had a freehold 
estate producing about five hundred a-year. Be- 
coming involved in debt, he sold half the estate, 
and let the remainder to an industrious farmer 
for twenty years. About the end of the term the 
farmer called to pay his rent, and asked the owner 
whether he would sell the farm. "Will you buy 
it ? " asked the owner, surprised. " Yes, if we can 
agree about the price." " That is exceedingly 
strange," observed the gentleman ; " pray, tell me 
how it happens that, while I could not live upon 
twice as much land for which I paid no rent, you 
are regularly paying me two hundred a-year for 
your farm, and are able, in a few years, to pur- 
chase it." " The reason is plain," was the reply ; 
you sat still and said Go, I got up and said Come; 
you lay in bed and enjoyed your estate, I rose 
in the morning and minded my business." 

Sir Walter Scott, writing to a youth who had 
obtained a situation and asked for his advice, gave 
him in reply this sound counsel : " Beware of 
stumbling over a propensity which easily besets 
you from not having your time fully employed 
I mean what the women call dawdling. Your 
motto must be, Hoc age. Do instantly whatever 
is to be done, and take the hours of recreation 
after business, never before it. When a regiment 
is under march, the rear is often thrown into 



confusion because the front do not move steadily 
and without interruption. It is the same with busi- 
ness. If that which is first in hand is not instantly, 
steadily, and regularly despatched, other things 
accumulate behind, till affairs begin to press all at 
once, and no human brain can stand the confusion." 

Promptitude in action may be stimulated by a 
due consideration of the value of time. An Italian 
philosopher was accustomed to call time his estate : 
an estate which produces nothing of value with- 
out cultivation, but, duly improved, never fails 
to recompense the labours of the diligent worker. 
Allowed to lie waste, the product will be only 
noxious weeds and vicious growths of all kinds. 
One of the minor uses of steady employment is, 
that it keeps one out of mischief, for truly an 
idle brain is the devil's workshop, and a lazy man 
the devil's bolster. To be occupied is to be pos- 
sessed as by a tenant, whereas to be idle is to 
be empty; and when the doors of the imagination 
are opened, temptation finds a ready access, and 
evil thoughts come trooping in. It is observed at 
sea, that men are never so much disposed to 
grumble and mutiny as when least employed. 
Hence an old captain, when there was nothing 
else to do, would issue the order to " scour the 
anchor ! " 

Men of business are accustomed to quote the 
maxim that Time is money; but it is more; the 
proper improvement of it is self-culture, self-im- 
provement, and growth of character. An hour 
wasted daily on trifles or in indolence would, if 
devoted to self-improvement, make an ignorant man 
wise in a few years, and employed in good works 
would make his life fruitful, and death a harvest 


of worthy deeds. Fifteen minutes a day devoted 
to self-improvement will be felt at the end of the 
year. Good thoughts and carefully gathered ex- 
perience take up no room, and may be carried 
about as our companions everywhere, without cost 
or incumbrance. An economical use of time is the 
true mode of securing leisure : it enables us to get 
through business and carry it forward, instead of 
being driven by it. On the other hand, the mis- 
calculation of time involes us in perpetual hurry, 
confusion, and difficulties ; and life becomes a mere 
shuffle of expedients, usually followed by disaster. 
Nelson once said, " I owe all my success in life 
to having been always a quarter of an hour before 
my time." 

Some take no thought of the value of money 
until they have come to an end of it, and many do 
the same with their time. The hours are allowed 
to flow by unemployed, and then, when life is 
fast waning, they bethink themselves of the duty 
of making a wiser use of it. But the habit of list- 
lessness and idleness may already have become 
confirmed, and they are unable to break the bonds 
with which they have permitted themselves to 
become bound. Lost wealth may be replaced 
by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health 
by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone 
for ever. 

A proper consideration of the value of time 
will also inspire habits of punctuality. " Punctu- 
ality," said Louis XIV., "is the politeness of kings." 
It is also the duty of gentlemen, and the necessity 
of men of business. Nothing begets confidence in 
a man sooner than the practice of this virtue, and 
nothing shakes confidence sooner than the want of 


it. He who holds to his appointment, and does not 
keep you waiting for him, shows that he has regard 
for your time as well as for his own. Thus 
punctuality is one of the modes by which we testify 
our personal respect for those whom we are called 
upon to meet in the business of life. It is also 
conscientiousness in a measure ; for an appoint- 
ment is a contract, express or implied, and he who 
does not keep it breaks faith, as well as dishonestly 
uses other people's time, and thus inevitably loses 
character. We naturally come to the conclusion 
that the person who is careless about time will be 
careless about business, and that he is not the one 
to be trusted with the transaction of matters of 
importance. When Washington's secretary excused 
himself for the lateness of his attendance and laid 
the blame upon his watch, his master quietly said, 
"Then you must get another watch, or I another 

The person who is negligent of time and its 
employment is usually found to be a general dis- 
turber of others' peace and serenity. It was wittily 
said by Lord Chesterfield of the old Duke of New- 
castle " His Grace loses an hour in the morning, 
and is looking for it all the rest of the day." 
Everybody with whom the unpunctual man has to 
do is thrown from time to time into a state of 
fever : he is systematically late ; regular only in 
his irregularity. He conducts his dawdling as if 
upon system ; arrives at his appointment after time ; 
gets to the railway station after the train has 
started ; posts his letter when the box has closed. 
Thus business is thrown into confusion, and every- 
body concerned is put out of temper. It will 
generally be found that the men who are thus 


By Lemuel Francis Abbot. 

[To face p. 324. 

CHAP, ix] TACT 325 

habitually behind time are as habitually behind 
success ; and the world generally casts them aside 
to swell the ranks of the grumblers and the railers 
against fortune. 

In addition to the ordinary working qualities the 
business man of the highest class requires quick 
perception and firmness in the execution of his 
plans. Tact is also important ; and though this is 
partly the gift of nature, it is yet capable of being 
cultivated and developed by observation and ex- 
perience. Men of this quality are quick to see the 
right mode of action, and if they have decision of 
purpose, are prompt to carry out their undertakings 
to a successful issue. These qualities are especially 
valuable, and indeed indispensable, in those who 
direct the action of other men on a large scale, as, 
for instance, in the case of the commander of an 
army in the field. It is not merely necessary that 
the general should be great as a warrior, but also 
as a man of business. He must possess great tact, 
much knowledge of character, and ability to 
organize the movements of a large mass of men, 
whom he has to feed, clothe, and furnish with 
whatever may be necessary in order that they may 
keep the field and win battles. In these respects 
Napoleon and Wellington were both first-rate men 
of business. 

Though Napoleon had an immense love for 
details, he had also a vivid power of imagination, 
which enabled him to look along extended lines of 
action, and deal with those details on a large scale, 
with judgment and rapidity. He possessed such 
knowledge of character as enabled him to select, 
almost unerringly, the best agents for the execution 
of his designs. But he trusted as little as possible 


to agents in matters of great moment, on which 
important results depended. This feature in his 
character is illustrated in a remarkable degree by 
the 'Napoleon Correspondence/ now in course of 
publication, and particularly by the contents of the 
1 5th volume,* which include the letters, orders, 
and despatches, written by the Emperor at Finken- 
stein, a little chateau on the frontier of Poland in 
the year 1807, shortly after the victory of Eylau. 

The French army was then lying encamped 
along the river Passarge with the Russians before 
them, the Austrians on their right flank, and the 
conquered Prussians in their rear. A long line 
of communications had to be maintained with 
France, through a hostile country ; but so carefully 
and with such foresight was this provided for, 
that it is said Napoleon never missed a post. The 
movements of armies, the bringing up of reinforce- 
ments from remote points in France, Spain, Italy, 
and Germany, the opening of canals and the 
levelling of roads to enable the produce of Poland 
and Prussia to be readily transported to his en- 
campments, had his unceasing attention, down to 
the minutest details. We find him directing where 
horses were to be obtained, making arrangements 
for an adequate supply of saddles, ordering shoes 
for the soldiers, and specifying the number of 
rations of bread, biscuit, and spirits that were 
to be brought to camp, or stored in magazines 
for the use of the troops. At the same time we 
find him writing to Paris giving directions for 
the reorganization of the French College, devising 
a scheme of public education, dictating bulletins 

* ' Correspondance de Napoleon I ",' publiee par ordre de 
1'Empereur Napoleon III. Paris. 1864. 


and articles for the ' Moniteur,' revising the details 
of the budgets, giving instructions to architects 
as to alterations to be made at the Tuileries 
and the Church of the Madeleine, throwing an 
occasional sarcasm at Madame de Stae"! and the 
Parisian journals, interfering to put down a squabble 
at the Grand Opera, carrying on a correspondence 
with the Sultan of Turkey and the Shah of Persia, 
so that, while his body was at Finkenstein, his 
mind seemed to be working at a hundred different 
places in Paris, in Europe, and throughout the 

We find him in one letter asking Ney if he 
has duly received the muskets which have been 
sent him ; in another he gives directions to Prince 
Jerome as to the shirts, great-coats, clothes, shoes, 
shakos, and arms to be served out to the Wurtem- 
burg regiments ; again he presses Cambaceres to 
forward to the army a double stock of corn 
"The ifs and the buts" said he, "are at present 
out of season, and above all it must be done with 
speed." Then he informs Daru that the army 
want shirts, and that they don't come to hand. To 
Massena he writes, "Let me know if your biscuit 
and bread arrangements are yet completed." To 
the Grand Due de Berg he gives directions as 
to the accoutrements of the cuirassiers " They 
complain that the men want sabres ; send an officer 
to obtain them at Posen. It is also said they want 
helmets ; order that they be made at Ebling. . . . 
It is not by sleeping that one can accomplish any- 
thing." Thus no point of detail was neglected, 
and the energies of all were stimulated into action 
with extraordinary power. Though many of the 
Emperor's days were occupied by inspection of 


his troops, in the course of which he sometimes 
rode from thirty to forty leagues a day, and by 
reviews, receptions, and affairs of state, leaving 
but little time for business matters, he neglected 
nothing on that account; but devoted the greater 
parts of his nights, when necessary, to examining 
budgets, dictating despatches, and attending to the 
thousand matters of detail in the organization and 
working of the Imperial Government ; the machinery 
of which was for the most part concentrated in 
his own head. 

Like Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington was 
a first-rate man of business ; and it is not perhaps 
saying too much to aver that it was in no small 
degree because of his possession of a business 
faculty amounting to genius that the Duke never 
lost a battle. 

While a subaltern, he became dissatisfied with 
the slowness of his promotion, and having passed 
from the infantry to the cavalry twice, and back 
again, without advancement, he applied to Lord 
Camden, then Viceroy of Ireland, for employment 
in the Revenue or Treasury Board. Had he suc- 
ceeded, no doubt he would have made a first-rate 
head of a department, as he would have made a first- 
rate merchant or manufacturer. But his application 
failed, and he remained with the army to become 
the greatest of British generals. 

The Duke began his active military career under 
the Duke of York and General Walmoden, in 
Flanders and Holland, where he learnt, amidst 
misfortunes and defeats, how bad business arrange- 
ments and bad generalship serve to ruin the morale 
of an army. Ten years after entering the army 
we find him a colonel in India, reported by his 


superiors as an officer of indefatigable energy and 
application. He entered into the minutest details 
of the service, and sought to raise the discipline of 
his men to the highest standard. " The regiment 
of Colonel Wellesley," wrote General Harris in 
1799, " is a model regiment ; on the score of soldierly 
bearing, discipline, instruction, and orderly be- 
haviour it is above all praise." Thus qualifying 
himself for posts of greater confidence, he was 
shortly after nominated governor of the capital of 
Mysore. In the war with the Mahrattas he was 
first called upon to try his hand at generalship ; 
and at thirty-four he won the memorable battle of 
Assaye, with an army composed of 1500 British 
and 5000 sepoys, over 20,000 Mahratta infantry and 
30,000 cavalry. But so brilliant a victory did not 
in the least disturb his equanimity, or affect the 
perfect honesty of his character. 

Shortly after this event the opportunity occurred 
for exhibiting his admirable practical qualities as 
an administrator. Placed in command of an im- 
portant district immediately after the capture of 
Seringapatam, his first object was to establish rigid 
order and discipline among his own men. Flushed 
with victory, the troops were found riotous and 
disorderly. "Send me the provost marshal," said 
he, " and put him under my orders : till some of 
the marauders are hung, it is impossible to expect 
order or safety." This rigid severity of Wellington 
in the field, though it was the dread, proved the 
salvation of his troops in many campaigns. His 
next step was to re-establish the markets and re- 
open the sources of supply. General Harris wrote 
to the Governor-General, strongly commending 
Colonel Wellesley for the perfect discipline he had 


established, and for his "judicious and masterly 
arrangements in respect to supplies, which opened 
an abundant free market, and inspired confidence 
into dealers of every description." The same close 
attention to and mastery of details characterized 
him throughout his Indian career ; and it is remark- 
able that one of his ablest despatches to Lord Clive, 
full of practical information as to the conduct of 
the campaign, was written whilst the column he 
commanded was crossing the Toombuddra, in the 
face of the vastly superior army of Dhoondiah, 
posted on the opposite bank, and while a thousand 
matters of the deepest interest were pressing upon 
the commander's mind. But it was one of his most 
remarkable characteristics, thus to be able to with- 
draw himself temporarily from the business im- 
mediately in hand, and to bend his full powers 
upon the consideration of matters totally distinct ; 
even the most difficult circumstances on such 
occasions failing to embarrass or intimidate him. 

Returned to England with a reputation for 
generalship, Sir Arthur Wellesley met with im- 
mediate employment. In 1808 a corps of 10,000 
men destined to liberate Portugal was placed under 
his charge. He landed, fought, and won two battles, 
and signed the Convention of Cintra. After the 
death of Sir John Moore he was entrusted with 
the command of a new expedition to Portugal. 
But Wellington was fearfully overmatched through- 
out his Peninsular campaigns. From 1809 to 1813 
he never had more than 30,000 British troops 
under his command, at a time when there stood 
opposed to him in the Peninsula some 350,000 
French, mostly veterans, led by some of Napoleon's 
ablest generals. How was he to contend against 


such immense forces with any fair prospect of 
success ? His clear discernment and strong common 
sense soon taught him that he must adopt a different 
policy from that of the Spanish generals, who 
were invariably beaten and dispersed whenever 
they ventured to offer battle in the open plains. 
He perceived he had yet to create the army that 
was to contend against the French with any reason- 
able chance of success. Accordingly, after the 
battle of Talavera in 1809, when he found himself 
encompassed on all sides by superior forces of 
French, he retired into Portugal, there to carry 
out the settled policy on which he had by this 
time determined. It was, to organize a Portuguese 
army under British officers, and teach them to act 
in combination with his own troops, in the mean- 
time avoiding the peril of a defeat by declining 
all engagements. He would thus, he conceived, 
destroy the morale of the French, who could 
not exist without victories; and when his army 
was ripe for action, and the enemy demoralized, he 
would then fall upon them with all his might 

The extraordinary qualities displayed by Lord 
Wellington throughout these immortal campaigns 
can only be appreciated after a perusal of his 
despatches, which contain the unvarnished tale of 
the manifold ways and means by which he laid 
the foundations of his success. Never was man 
more tried by difficulty and opposition, arising not 
less from the imbecility, falsehoods, and intrigues 
of the British Government of the day, than from 
the selfishness, cowardice, and vanity of the people 
he went to save. It may, indeed, be said of him, 
that he sustained the war in Spain by his individual 
firmness and self-reliance, which never failed him 


even in the midst of his great discouragements. 
He had not only to fight Napoleon's veterans, 
but also to hold in check the Spanish juntas and 
the Portuguese regency. He had the utmost 
difficulty in obtaining provisions and clothing for 
his troops; and it will scarcely be credited that 
while engaged with the enemy in the battle of 
Talavera, the Spaniards, who ran away, fell upon 
the baggage of the British army, and the ruffians 
actually plundered it ! These and other vexations 
the Duke bore with a sublime patience and self- 
control, and held on his course, in the face of 
ingratitude, treachery, and opposition, with in- 
domitable firmness. He neglected nothing, and 
attended to every important detail of business him- 
self. When he found that food for his troops was 
not to be obtained from England, and that he must 
rely upon his own resources for feeding them, he 
forthwith commenced business as a corn merchant 
on a large scale, in copartnery with the British 
Minister at Lisbon. Commissariat bills were created, 
with which grain was bought in the ports of the 
Mediterranean and in South America. When he 
had thus filled his magazines, the overplus was 
sold to the Portuguese, who were greatly in want 
of provisions. He left nothing whatever to chance, 
but provided for every contingency. He gave his 
attention to the minutest details of the service; 
and was accustomed to concentrate his whole 
energies, from time to time, on such apparently 
ignominious matters as soldiers' shoes, camp- 
kettles, biscuits and horse fodder. His magnificent 
business qualities were everywhere felt, and there 
can be no doubt that, by the care with which he 
provided for every contingency, and the personal 


attention which he gave to every detail, he laid 
the foundations of his great success.* By such 
means he transformed an army of raw levies into 
the best soldiers in Europe, with whom he declared 
it to be possible to go anywhere and do anything. 

We have already referred to his remarkable 
power of abstracting himself from the work, no 
matter how engrossing, immediately in hand, and 
concentrating his energies upon the details of some 
entirely different business. Thus Napier relates 
that it was while he was preparing to fight the battle 
of Salamanca that he had to expose to the Ministers 
at home the futility of relying upon a loan ; it was 
on the heights of San Cristoval, on the field of 
battle itself, that he demonstrated the absurdity 
of attempting to establish a Portuguese bank; it 
was in the trenches of Burgos that he dissected 
Funchal's scheme of finance, and exposed the folly 
of attempting the sale of church property ; and on 
each occasion he showed himself as well acquainted 
with these subjects as with the minutest detail in 
the mechanism of armies. 

Another feature in his character, showing the 
upright man of business, was his thorough honesty. 
Whilst Soult ransacked and carried away with 
him from Spain numerous pictures of great value, 
Wellington did not appropriate to himself a single 
farthing's worth of property. Everywhere he paid 
his way, even when in the enemy's country. When 
he had crossed the French frontier, followed by 

* The recently published correspondence of Napoleon with his 
brother Joseph, and the Memoirs of the Duke of Ragusa, abundantly 
confirm this view. The Duke overthrew Napoleon's generals by 
the superiority of his routine. He used to say that, if he knew 
anything at all, he knew how to feed an army. 


40,000 Spaniards, who sought to "make fortunes" 
by pillage and plunder, he first rebuked their 
officers, and then, finding his efforts to restrain 
them unavailing, he sent them back into their 
own country. It is a remarkable fact, that, even 
in France, the peasantry fled from their own 
countrymen, and carried their valuables within 
the protection of the British lines ! At the very 
same time Wellington was writing home to the 
British Ministry, " We are overwhelmed with debts, 
and I can scarcely stir out of my house on account 
of public creditors waiting to demand payment of 
what is due to them." Jules Maurel, in his estimate 
of the Duke's character, says, " Nothing can be 
grander or more nobly original than this admission. 
This old soldier, after thirty years' service, this 
iron man and victorious general, established in an 
enemy's country at the head of an immense army, 
is afraid of his creditors ! This is a kind of fear 
that has seldom troubled the mind of conquerors 
and invaders ; and I doubt if the annals of war 
could present anything comparable to this sublime 
simplicity." But the Duke himself, had the matter 
been put to him, would most probably have dis- 
claimed any intention of acting even grandly or 
nobly in the matter ; merely regarding the punctual 
payment of his debts as the best and most honour- 
able mode of conducting his business. 

The truth of the good old maxim, that " Honesty 
is the best policy," is upheld by the daily experi- 
ence of life ; uprightness and integrity being found 
as successful in business as in everything else. As 
Hugh Miller's worthy uncle used to advise him, 
" In all your dealings give your neighbour the cast 
of the bauk ' good measure, heaped up, and running 


over ' and you will not lose by it in the end." A 
well-known brewer of beer attributed his success 
to the liberality with which he used his malt. 
Going up to the vat and tasting it, he would say, 
" Still rather poor, my lads ; give it another cast 
of the malt." The brewer put his character into 
his beer, and it proved generous accordingly, 
obtaining a reputation in England, India, and the 
colonies, which laid the foundation of a large 
fortune. Integrity of word and deed ought to be 
the very corner-stone of all business transactions. 
To the tradesman, the merchant, and manufacturer 
it should be what honour is to the soldier, and 
charity to the Christian. In the humblest calling 
there will always be found scope for the exercise 
of this uprightness of character. Hugh Miller 
speaks of the mason with whom he served his 
apprenticeship as one who "put his conscience into 
every stone that he laid" So the true mechanic will 
pride himself upon the thoroughness and solidity 
of his work, and the high-minded contractor upon 
the honesty of performance of his contract in every 
particular. The upright manufacturer will find not 
only honour and reputation, but substantial success, 
in the genuineness of the article which he produces, 
and the merchant in the honesty of what he sells, 
and that it really is what it seems to be. Baron 
Dupin, speaking of the general probity of English- 
men, which he held to be a principal cause of their 
success, observed, " We may succeed for a time by 
fraud, by surprise, by violence ; but we can succeed 
permanently only by means directly opposite. It 
is not alone the courage, the intelligence, the activity, 
of the merchant and manufacturer which maintain 
the superiority of their productions and the character 


of their country ; it is far more their wisdom, their 
economy, and, above all, their probity. If ever in 
the British Islands the useful citizen should lose 
these virtues, we may be sure that, for England, as 
for every other country, the vessels of a degenerate 
commerce, repulsed from every shore, would 
speedily disappear from those seas whose surface 
they now cover with the treasures of the universe, 
bartered for the treasures of the industry of the 
three kingdoms." 

It must be admitted, that Trade tries character 
perhaps more severely than an}' other pursuit in 
life. It puts to the severest tests honesty, self- 
denial, justice, and truthfulness; and men of 
business who pass through such trials unstained 
are perhaps worthy of as great honour as soldiers 
who prove their courage amidst the fire and perils 
of battle. And, to the credit of the multitudes of 
men engaged in the various departments of trade, 
we think it must be admitted that on the whole 
they pass through their trials nobly. If we reflect 
but for a moment on the vast amount of wealth 
daily entrusted even to subordinate persons, who 
themselves probably earn but a bare competency 
the loose cash which is constantly passing through 
the hands of shopmen, agents, brokers, and clerks 
in banking houses and note how comparatively few 
are the breaches of trust which occur amidst all 
this temptation, it will probably be admitted that 
this steady daily honesty of conduct is most 
honourable to human nature, if it do not even 
tempt us to be proud of it. The same trust and 
confidence reposed by men of business in each 
other, as implied by the system of Credit, which is 
mainly based upon the principle of honour, would 


be surprising if it were not so much a matter of 
ordinary practice in business transactions. Dr. 
Chalmers has well said, that the implicit trust 
with which merchants are accustomed to confide 
in distant agents, separated from them perhaps by 
half the globe often consigning vast wealth to 
persons, recommended only by their character, 
whom perhaps they have never seen is probably 
the finest act of homage which men can render to 
one another. 

Although common honesty is still happily in 
the ascendant amongst common people, and the 
general business community of England is still sound 
at heart, putting their honest character into their 
respective callings, there are, unhappily, as there 
have been in all times, but too many instances of 
flagrant dishonesty and fraud, exhibited by the 
unscrupulous, the over-speculative, and the in- 
tensely selfish in their haste to be rich. There are 
tradesmen who adulterate, contractors who " scamp," 
manufacturers who give us shoddy instead of wool, 
" dressing " instead of cotton, cast-iron tools instead 
of steel, needles without eyes, razors made only 
"to sell," and swindled fabrics in many shapes. 
But these we must hold to be the exceptional cases, 
of low-minded and grasping men, who, though 
they may gain wealth which they probably cannot 
enjoy, will never gain an honest character, nor 
secure that without which wealth is nothing a 
heart at peace. "The rogue cozened not me, but 
his own conscience," said Bishop Latimer of a 
cutler who made him pay twopence for a knife not 
worth a penny. Money earned by screwing, 
cheating, and over-reaching may for a time dazzle 
the eyes of the unthinking; but the bubbles blown 



by unscrupulous rogues, when full-blown, usually 
glitter only to burst. The Sadleirs, Dean Pauls, 
and Redpaths, for the most part, come to a sad end 
even in this world ; and though the successful 
swindles of others may not be "found out," and the 
gains of their roguery may remain with them, it 
will be as a curse and not as a blessing. 

It is possible that the scrupulously honest man 
may not grow rich so fast as the unscrupulous and 
dishonest one ; but the success will be of a truer 
kind, earned without fraud or injustice. And even 
though a man should for a time be unsuccessful, 
still he must be honest : better lose all and save 
character. For character is itself a fortune ; and if 
the high-principled man will but hold on his way 
courageously, success will surely come, nor will 
the highest reward of all be withheld from him. 
Wordsworth well describes the " Happy Warrior," 
as he 

"Who comprehends his trust, and to the same 
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim ; 
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait 
For wealth, or honour, or for worldly state ; 
Whom they must follow, on whose head must fall, 
Like showers of manna, if they come at all." 

As an example of the high-minded mercantile 
man trained in upright habits of business, and dis- 
tinguished for justice, truthfulness, and honesty of 
dealing in all things, the career of the well-known 
David Barclay, grandson of Robert Barclay, ot 
Ury, the author of the celebrated ' Apology for the 
Quakers,' may be briefly referred to. For many 
years he was the head of an extensive house in 
Cheapside, chiefly engaged in the American trade ; 
but, like Granville Sharp, he entertained so strong 


an opinion against the war with our American 
colonies, that he determined to retire altogether 
from the trade. Whilst a merchant, he was as 
much distinguished for his talents, knowledge, in- 
tegrity, and power as he afterwards was for his 
patriotism and munificent philanthropy. He was 
a mirror of truthfulness and honesty ; and, as be- 
came the good Christian and true gentleman, his 
word was always held to be as good as his bond. 
His position and his high character induced the 
Ministers of the day on many occasions to seek his 
advice; and, when examined before the House of 
Commons on the subject of the American dispute, 
his views were so clearly expressed, and his advice 
was so strongly justified by the reasons stated by 
him, that Lord North publicly acknowledged that 
he had derived more information from David 
Barclay than from all others east of Temple Bar. 
On retiring from business, it was not to rest in 
luxurious ease, but to enter upon new labours of 
usefulness for others. With ample means, he felt 
that he still owed to society the duty of a good ex- 
ample. He founded a house of industry near his 
residence at Walthamstow, which he supported at 
a heavy outlay for several years, until at length he 
succeeded in rendering it a source of comfort as 
well as independence to the well-disposed families 
of the poor in that neighbourhood. When an 
estate in Jamaica fell to him, he determined, though 
at a cost of some io,ooo/., at once to give liberty to 
the whole of the slaves on the property. He sent 
out an agent, who hired a ship, and he had the 
little slave community transported to one of the 
free American States, where they settled down and 
prospered. Mr. Barclay had been assured that the 


negroes were too ignorant and too barbarous for 
freedom, and it was thus that he determined practi- 
cally to demonstrate the fallacy of the assertion. 
In dealing with his accumulated savings, he made 
himself the executor of his own will, and instead 
of leaving a large fortune to be divided among his 
relatives at his death, he extended to them his 
munificent aid during his life, watched and aided 
them in their respective careers, and thus not only 
laid the foundation, but lived to see the maturity of 
some of the largest and most prosperous business 
concerns in the metropolis. We believe that to 
this day some of our most eminent merchants 
such as the Gurneys, Hanburys, and Buxtons 
are proud to acknowledge with gratitude the 
obligations they owe to David Barclay for the 
means of their first introduction to life, and for 
the benefits of his counsel and countenance in the 
early stages of their career. Such a man stands 
as a mark of the mercantile honesty and integrity 
of his country, and is a model and example for men 
of business in all time to come. 



"Not for to hide it in a hedge, 

Nor for a train attendant, 
But for the glorious privilege 
Of being independent." Burns. 

" Neither a borrower nor a lender be : 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend ; 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." Shakespeare, 

"Never treat money affairs with levity Money is character." 

Sir E. L. Bulwer-Lytton. 

HOW a man uses money makes it, saves it, 
and spends it is perhaps one of the best 
tests of practical wisdom. Although money 
ought by no means to be regarded as a chief end 
of man's life, neither is it a trifling matter, to be 
held in philosophic contempt, representing as it 
does to so large an extent the means of physical 
comfort and social well-being. Indeed, some of the 
finest qualities of human nature are intimately 
related to the right use of money; such as 
generosity, honesty, justice, and self-sacrifice; as 
well as the practical virtues of economy and 
providence. On the other hand, there are their 
counterparts of avarice, fraud, injustice, and selfish- 
ness, as displayed by the inordinate lovers of gain ; 
and the vices of thriftlessness, extravagance, and 



improvidence, on the part of those who misuse and 
abuse the means entrusted to them. " So that," 
as is wisely observed by Henry Taylor in his 
thoughtful ' Notes from Life,' " a right measure 
and manner in getting, saving, spending, giving, 
taking, lending, borrowing, and bequeathing would 
almost argue a perfect man." 

Comfort in worldly circumstances is a condition 
which every man is justified in striving to attain 
by all worthy means. It secures that physical 
satisfaction which is necessary for the culture of 
the better part of his nature ; and enables him to 
provide for those of his own household, without 
which, says the Apostle, a man is "worse than an 
infidel." Nor ought the duty to be any the less 
indifferent to us, that the respect which our fellow- 
men entertain for us in no slight degree depends 
upon the manner in which we exercise the oppor- 
tunities which present themselves for our honourable 
advancement in life. The very effort required to 
be made to succeed in life with this object is of 
itself an education ; stimulating a man's sense of 
self-respect, bringing out his practical qualities, and 
disciplining him in the exercise of patience, per- 
severance, and such like virtues. The provident 
and careful man must necessarily be a thoughtful 
man, for he lives not merely for the present, but 
with provident forecast makes arrangements for the 
future. He must also be a temperate man, and 
exercise the virtue of self-denial, than which nothing 
is so much calculated to give strength to the 
character. John Sterling says truly, that "the 
worst education which teaches self-denial is better 
than the best which teaches everything else, and 
not that." The Romans rightly employed the same 


word (virtus) to designate courage, which is in a 
physical sense what the other is in a moral; the 
highest virtue of all being victory over ourselves. 
Hence the lesson of self-denial the sacrificing 
of a present gratification for a future good is one 
of the last that is learnt. Those classes which work 
the hardest might naturally be expected to value the 
most the money which they earn. Yet the readiness 
with which so many are accustomed to eat up and 
drink up their earnings as they go renders them 
to a great extent helpless and dependent upon the 
frugal. There are large numbers of persons among 
us who, though enjoying sufficient means of comfort 
and independence, are often found to be barely a 
day's march ahead of actual want when a time of 
pressure occurs ; and hence a great cause of social 
helplessness and suffering. On one occasion a 
deputation waited on Lord John Russell, respecting 
the taxation levied on the working classes of the 
country ,when the noble lord took the opportunity 
of remarking, " You may rely upon it that the 
Government of this country durst not tax the 
working classes to anything like the extent to which 
they tax themselves in their expenditure upon 
intoxicating drinks alone ! " Of all great public 
questions, there is perhaps none more important 
than this, no great work of reform calling more 
loudly for labourers. But it must be admitted that 
" self-denial and self-help " would make a poor rally- 
ing cry for the hustings ; and it is to be feared that 
the patriotism of this day has but little regard for 
such common things as individual economy and 
providence, although it is by the practice of such 
virtues only that the genuine independence of the 
industrial classes is to be secured. " Prudence, 

344 MONEY [CHAP, x 

frugality, and good management," said Samuel Drew, 
the philosophical shoemaker, " are excellent artists 
for mending bad times : they occupy but little room 
in any dwelling, but would furnish a more effectual 
remedy for the evils of life than any Reform Bill 
that ever passed the Houses of Parliament." Socrates 
said, " Let him that would move the world move 
first himself." Or, as the old rhyme runs 

" If every one would see 

To his own reformation, 
How very easily 
You might reform a nation." 

It is, however, generally felt to be a far easier thing 
to reform the Church and the State than to reform 
the least of our own bad habits ; and in such 
matters it is usually found more agreeable to our 
tastes, as it certainly is the common practice, to 
begin with our neighbours rather than with our- 

Any class of men that lives from hand to mouth 
will ever be an inferior class. They will necessarily 
remain impotent and helpless, hanging on to the 
skirts of society, the sport of times and seasons. 
Having no respect for themselves, they will fail in 
securing the respect of others. In commercial crises 
such men must inevitably go to the wall. Wanting 
that husbanded power which a store of savings, no 
matter how small, invariably gives them, they will 
be at every man's mercy, and, if possessed of right 
feelings, they cannot but regard with fear and 
trembling the future possible fate of their wives 
and children. " The world," once said Mr. Cobden 
to the working men of Huddersfield, " has always 
been divided into two classes, those who have 


saved, and those who have spent the thrifty and 
the extravagant. The building of all the houses, 
the mills, the bridges, and the ships, and the ac- 
complishment of all other great works which have 
rendered man civilized and happy, has been done 
by the savers, the thrifty; and those who have 
wasted their resources have always been their 
slaves. It has been the law of nature and of 
Providence that this should be so ; and I were an 
impostor if I promised any class that they would 
advance themselves if they were improvident, 
thoughtless, and idle." 

Equally sound was the advice given by Mr. 
Bright to an assembly of working men at Rochdale, 
in 1847, when, after expressing his belief that, "so 
far as honesty was concerned, it was to be found in 
pretty equal amount among all classes," he used 
the following words : " There is only one way 
that is safe for any man, or any number of men, by 
which they can maintain their present position if 
it be a good one, or raise themselves above it if it 
be a bad one that is, by the practice of the virtues 
of industry, frugality, temperance, and honesty. 
There is no royal road by which men can raise 
themselves from a position which they feel to be 
uncomfortable and unsatisfactory, as regards their 
mental or physical condition, except by the practice 
of those virtues by which they find numbers 
amongst them are continually advancing and 
bettering themselves." 

There is no reason why the condition of the 
average workman should not be a useful, honour- 
able, respectable, and happy one. The whole body 
of the working classes might (with few exceptions) 
be as frugal, virtuous, well-informed, and well- 

346 MONEY [CHAP, x 

conditioned as many individuals of the same class 
have already made themselves. What some men 
are, all without difficulty might be. Employ the 
same means, and the same results will follow. 
That there should be a class of men who live by 
their daily labour in every state is the ordinance 
of God, and doubtless is a wise and righteous one ; 
but that this class should be otherwise than frugal, 
contented, intelligent, and happy is not the design 
of Providence, but springs solely from the weak- 
ness, self-indulgence, and perverseness of man 
himself. The healthy spirit of self-help created 
amongst working people would more than any 
other measure serve to raise them as a class, and 
this, not by pulling down others, but by levelling 
them up to a higher and still advancing standard 
of religion, intelligence, and virtue. "All moral 
philosophy," says Montaigne, "is as applicable to 
a common and private life as to the most splendid. 
Every man carries the entire form of the human 
condition within him." 

When a man casts his glance forward, he will 
find that the three chief temporal contingencies for 
which he has to provide are want of employment, 
sickness, and death. The first two he may escape, 
but the last is inevitable. It is, however, the duty 
of the prudent man so to live, and so to arrange, 
that the pressure of suffering, in event of either 
contingency occurring, shall be mitigated to as 
great an extent as possible, not only to himself, 
but also to those who are dependent upon him 
for their comfort and subsistence. Viewed in this 
light the honest earning and the frugal use of 
money are of the greatest importance. Rightly 
earned, it is the representative of patient industry 


and untiring effort, of temptation resisted and 
hope rewarded ; and, rightly used, it affords in- 
dications of prudence, fore-thought and self-denial 
the true basis of manly character. Though 
money represents a crowd of objects without any 
real worth or utility, it also represents many 
things of great value ; not only food, clothing, 
and household satisfaction, but personal self-respect 
and independence. Thus a store of savings is 
to the working man as a barricade against want ; 
it secures him a footing, and enables him to wait, 
it may be in cheerfulness and hope, until better 
days come round. The very endeavour to gain 
a firmer position in the world has a certain 
dignity in it, and tends to make a man stronger 
and better. At all events, it gives him greater 
freedom of action, and enables him to husband his 
strength for future effort. 

But the man who is always hovering on the 
verge of want is in a state not far removed from 
that of slavery. He is in no sense his own master, 
but is in constant peril of falling under the bondage 
of others, and accepting the terms which they 
dictate to him. He cannot help being, in a measure, 
servile, for he dares not look the world boldly in 
the face ; and in adverse times he must look either 
to alms or the poor's rates. If work fails him alto- 
gether, he has not the means of moving to another 
field of employment; he is fixed to his parish 
like a limpet to its rock, and can neither migrate 
nor emigrate. 

To secure independence, the practice of simple 
economy is all that is necessary. Economy requires 
neither superior courage nor eminent virtue; it is 
satisfied with ordinary energy, and the capacity of 


average minds. Economy, at bottom, is but the 
spirit of order applied in the administration of 
domestic affairs : it means management, regularity, 
prudence, and the avoidance of waste. The spirit 
of economy was expressed by our Divine Master 
in the words ' Gather up the fragments that remain, 
so that nothing may be lost." His omnipotence 
did not disdain the small things of life ; and even 
while revealing His infinite power to the multitude, 
He taught the pregnant lesson of carefulness of 
which all stand so much in need. 

Economy also means the power of resisting 
present gratification for the purpose of securing a 
future good, and in this light it represents the as- 
cendency of reason over the animal instincts. It is 
altogether different from penuriousness : for it is 
economy that can always best afford to be generous. 
It does not make money an idol, but regards it as 
a useful agent. As Dean Swift observes, " we must 
carry money in the head, not in the heart." 
Economy may be styled the daughter of Prudence, 
the sister of Temperance, and the mother of 
Liberty. It is evidently conservative conservative 
of character, of domestic happiness, and social well- 
being. It is, in short, the exhibition of self-help in 
one of its best forms. 

Francis Horner's father gave him" this advice on 
entering life : " Whilst I wish you to be comfort- 
able in every respect, I cannot too strongly inculcate 
economy. It is a necessary virtue to all ; and how- 
ever the shallow part of mankind may despise it, 
it certainly leads to independence, which is a grand 
object to every man of a high spirit." Burns' lines, 
quoted at the head of this chapter, contain the 
right idea ; but, unhappily, his strain of song was 


higher than his practice; his ideal better than his 
habit. When laid on his death-bed he wrote to 
a friend, " Alas ! Clarke, I begin to feel the worst. 
Burns' poor widow, and half a dozen of his dear 
little ones helpless orphans ; there I am weak 
as a woman's tear. Enough of this ; 'tis half my 

Every man ought so to contrive as to live within 
his means. This practice is of the very essence 
of honesty. For if a man do not manage honestly 
to live within his own means, he must necessarily 
be living dishonestly upon the means of somebody 
else. Those who are careless about personal ex- 
penditure, and consider merely their own grati- 
fication, without regard for the comfort of others, 
generally find out the real uses of money when 
it is too late. Though by nature generous, these 
thriftless persons are often driven in the end to 
do very shabby things. They waste their money 
as they do their time ; draw bills upon the future ; 
anticipate their earnings ; and are thus under the 
necessity of dragging after them a load of debts 
and obligations which seriously affect their action 
as free and independent men. 

It was a maxim of Lord Bacon, that when it 
was necessary to economize, it was better to look 
after petty savings than to descend to petty 
gettings. The loose cash which many persons 
throw away uselessly, and worse, would often form 
a basis of fortune and independence for life. These 
wasters are their own worst enemies, though 
generally found amongst the ranks of those who 
rail at the injustice of " the world." But if a man 
will not be his own friend, how can he expect that 
others will ? Orderly men of moderate means have 


always something left in their pockets to help 
others ; whereas your prodigal and careless fellows 
who spend all never find an opportunity for helping 
anybody. It is poor economy, however, to be a 
scrub. Narrow-mindedness in living and in dealing 
is generally short-sighted, and leads to failure. 
The penny soul, it is said, never came to twopence. 
Generosity and liberality, like honesty, prove the 
best policy after all. Though Jenkinson, in the 
' Vicar of Wakefield,' cheated his kind-hearted 
neighbour Flamborough in one way or another 
every year, " Flamborough," said he, " has been 
regularly growing in riches, while I have come 
to poverty and a gaol." And practical life abounds 
in cases of brilliant results from a course of gener- 
ous and honest policy. 

The proverb says that " an empty bag cannot 
stand upright " ; neither can a man who is in debt. 
It is also difficult for a man who is in debt to be 
truthful ; hence it is said that lying rides on debt's 
back. The debtor has to frame excuses to his 
creditor for postponing payment of the money he 
owes him; and probably also to contrive false- 
hoods. It is easy enough for a man who will 
exercise a healthy resolution to avoid incurring 
the first obligation ; but the facility with which 
that has been incurred often becomes a temptation 
to a second ; and very soon the unfortunate 
borrower becomes so entangled that no late exer- 
tion of industry can set him free. The first step 
in debt is like the first step in falsehood ; almost 
involving the necessity of proceeding in the same 
course, debt following debt, as lie follows lie. 
Haydon, the painter, dated his decline from the 
day on which he first borrowed money. He 


realized the truth of the proverb, " Who goes a- 
borrowing, goes a-sorrowing." The significant 
entry in his diary is : " Here began debt and 
obligation, out of which I have never been and 
never shall be extricated as long as I live." His 
Autobiography shows but too painfully how em- 
barrassment in money matters produces poignant 
distress of mind, utter incapacity for work, and 
constantly recurring humiliations. The written 
advice which he gave to a youth when entering 
the navy was as follows : " Never purchase any 
enjoyment if it cannot be procured without borrow- 
ing of others. Never borrow money: it is de- 
grading. I do not say never lend, but never lend 
if by lending you render yourself unable to pay 
what you owe ; but under any circumstances never 
borrow." Fichte, the poor student, refused to 
accept even presents from his still poorer parents. 

Dr. Johnson held that early debt is ruin. His 
words on the subject are weighty, and worthy of 
being held in remembrance. " Do not," said he, 
" accustom yourself to consider debt only as an 
inconvenience ; you will find it a calamity. Poverty 
takes away so many means of doing good, and 
produces so much inability to resist evil, both 
natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means 
to be avoided. . . . Let it be your first care, then, 
not to be in any man's debt. Resolve not to be 
poor ; whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is 
a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly 
destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues im- 
practicable and others extremely difficult. Frugality 
is not only the basis of quiet, but of beneficence. 
No man can help others that wants help himself; 
we must have enough before we have to spare." 


It is the bounden duty of every man to look his 
affairs in the face, and to keep an account of his 
incomings and outgoings in money matters. The 
exercise of a little simple arithmetic in this way 
will be found of great value. Prudence requires 
that we shall pitch our scale of living a degree 
below our means, rather than up to them ; but this 
can only be done by carrying out faithfully a plan 
of living by which both ends may be made to meet. 
John Locke strongly advised this course: "Nothing," 
said he, " is likelier to keep a man within compass 
than having constantly before his eyes the state 
of his affairs in a regular course of account." The 
Duke of Wellington kept an accurate detailed 
account of all the moneys received and expended 
by him. " I make a point," said he to Mr. Gleig, 
" of paying my own bills, and I advise every one 
to do the same ; formerly I used to trust a con- 
fidential servant to pay them, but I was cured of 
that folly by receiving one morning, to my great 
surprise, duns of a year or two's standing. The 
fellow had speculated with my money, and left my 
bills unpaid." Talking of debt, his remark was, 
" It makes a slave of a man. I have often known 
what it was to be in want of money, but I never 
got into debt." Washington was as particular as 
Wellington was, in matters of business detail ; and 
it is a remarkable fact that he did not disdain 
to scrutinize the outgoings of his household deter- 
mined as he was to live honestly within his means 
even while holding the high office of President 
of the American Union. 

Admiral Jervis, Earl St. Vincent, has told the 
story of his early struggles, and, amongst other 
things, of his determination to keep out of debt. 


" My father had a very large family," said he, " with 
limited means. He gave me twenty pounds at 
starting, and that was all he ever gave me. After 
I had been a considerable time at the station [at 
sea], I drew for twenty more, but the bill came 
back protested. I was mortified at this rebuke, and 
made a promise, which I have ever kept, that I 
would never draw another bill without a certainty 
of its being paid. I immediately changed my mode 
of living, quitted my mess, lived alone, and took up 
the ship's allowance, which I found quite sufficient ; 
washed and mended my own clothes ; made a pair 
of trousers out of the ticking of my bed ; and having 
by these means saved as much money as would 
redeem my honour, I took up my bill, and from 
that time to this I have taken care to keep within 
my means." Jervis for six years endured pinching 
privation, but preserved his integrity, studied his 
profession with success, and gradually and steadily 
rose by merit and bravery to the highest rank. 

Mr. Hume hit the mark when he once stated in 
the House of Commons though his words were 
followed by "laughter" that the tone of living in 
England is altogether too high. Middle-class people 
are too apt to live up to their incomes, if not beyond 
them : affecting a degree of " style " which is most 
unhealthy in its effects upon society at large. 
There is an ambition to bring up boys as gentle- 
men, or rather "genteel" men; though the result 
frequently is only to make them gents. They 
acquire a taste for dress, style, luxuries, and amuse- 
ments which can never form any solid foundation 
for manly or gentlemanly character ; and the 
result is, that we have a vast number of ginger- 
bread young gentry thrown upon the world, who 



remind one of the abandoned hulls sometimes 
picked up at sea, with only a monkey on board. 

There is a dreadful ambition abroad for being 
"genteel." We keep up appearances, too often 
at the expense of honesty ; and, though we may 
not be rich, yet we must seem to be so. We must 
be "respectable," though only in the meanest 
sense in mere vulgar outward show. We have 
not the courage to go patiently onward in the 
condition of life in which it has pleased God to 
call us ; but must needs live in some fashionable 
state to which we ridiculously please to call our- 
selves, and all to gratify the vanity of that unsub- 
stantial genteel world of which we form a part. 
There is a constant struggle and pressure for front 
seats in the social amphitheatre ; in the midst 
of which all noble self-denying resolve is trodden 
down, and many fine natures are inevitably crushed 
to death. What waste, what misery, what bank- 
ruptcy, come from all this ambition to dazzle others 
with the glare of apparent worldly success we 
need not describe. The mischievous results show 
themselves in a thousand ways in the rank 
frauds committed by men who dare to be dishonest, 
but do not dare to seem poor ; and in the desperate 
dashes at fortune, in which the pity is not so much 
for those who fail as for the hundreds of innocent 
families who are so often involved in their ruin. 

The late Sir Charles Napier, in taking leave 
of his command in India, did a bold and honest 
thing in publishing his strong protest, embodied 
in his last General Order to the officers of the 
Indian army, against the "fast" life led by so 
many young officers in that service, involving 
them in ignominious obligations. Sir Charles 


strongly urged, in that famous document what 
had almost been lost sight of that " honesty is 
inseparable from the character of a thoroughbred 
gentleman"; and that "to drink unpaid-for cham- 
pagne and unpaid-for beer, and to ride unpaid-for 
horses, is to be a cheat, and not a gentleman." Men 
who lived beyond their means and were summoned, 
often by their own servants, before Courts of 
Requests for debts contracted in extravagant 
living, might be officers by virtue of their com- 
missions, but they were not gentlemen. The 
habit of being constantly in debt, the Commander- 
in-Chief held, made men grow callous to the proper 
feelings of a gentleman. It was not enough that 
an officer should be able to fight : that any bull- 
dog could do. But did he hold his word inviolate ? 
did he pay his debts? These were among the 
points of honour which, he insisted, illuminated 
the true gentleman's and soldier's career. As 
Bayard was of old, so would Sir Charles Napier 
have all British officers to be. He knew them to 
be "without fear," but he would also have them 
"without reproach." There are, however, many 
gallant young fellows, both in India and at home, 
capable of mounting a breach on an emergency 
amidst belching fire, and of performing the most 
desperate deeds of valour, who nevertheless cannot 
or will not exercise the moral courage necessary 
to enable them to resist a petty temptation pre- 
sented to their senses. They cannot utter their 
valiant " No," or " I can't afford it," to the invita- 
tions of pleasure and self-enjoyment ; and they 
are found ready to brave death rather than the 
ridicule of their companions. 

The young man, as he passes through life, 


advances through a long line of tempters ranged 
on either side of him ; and the inevitable effect 
of yielding is degradation in a greater or a less 
degree. Contact with them tends insensibly to 
draw away from him some portion of the divine 
electric element with which his nature is charged ; 
and his only mode of resisting them is to utter 
and to act out his "no" manfully and resolutely. 
He must decide at once, not waiting to deliberate 
and balance reasons ; for the youth, like " the 
woman who deliberates, is lost." Many deliberate, 
without deciding ; but " not to resolve, is to resolve." 
A perfect knowledge of man is in the prayer, 
" Lead us not into temptation." But temptation will 
come to try the young man's strength ; and once 
yielded to, the power to resist grows weaker and 
weaker. Yield once, and a portion of virtue has 
gone. Resist manfully, and the first decision 
will give strength for life ; repeated, it will become 
a habit. It is in the outworks of the habits formed 
in early life that the real strength of the defence 
must lie ; for it has been wisely ordained, that the 
machinery of moral existence should be carried on 
principally through the medium of the habits, so 
as to save the wear and tear of the great principles 
within. It is good habits, which insinuate them- 
selves into the thousand inconsiderable acts of life, 
that really constitute by far the greater part of 
man's moral conduct. 

Hugh Miller has told how, by an act of youthful 
decision, he saved himself from one of the strong 
temptations so peculiar to a life of toil. When 
employed as a mason, it was usual for his fellow- 
workmen to have an occasional treat of drink, and 
one day two glasses of whisky fell to his share, 


which he swallowed. When he reached home, he 
found, on opening his favourite book ' Bacon's 
Essays ' that the letters danced before his eyes, 
and that he could no longer master the sense. 
" The condition," he says, " into which I had 
brought myself was, I felt, one of degradation. I 
had sunk, by my own act, for the time, to a lower 
level of intelligence than that on which it was my 
privilege to be placed ; and though the state could 
have been no very favourable one for forming a 
resolution, I in that hour determined that I should 
never again sacrifice my capacity of intellectual 
enjoyment to a drinking usage ; and, with God's 
help, I was enabled to hold by the determination." 
It is such decisions as this that often form the 
turning-points in a man's life, and furnish the 
foundation of his future character. And this rock, 
on which Hugh Miller might have been wrecked, 
if he had not at the right moment put forth his 
moral strength to strike away from it, is one that 
youth and manhood alike need to be constantly 
on their guard against. It is about one of the 
worst and most deadly, as well as extravagant, 
temptations which lie in the way of youth. Sir 
Walter Scott used to say that " of all vices drinking 
is the most incompatible with greatness." Not only 
so, but it is incompatible with economy, decency, 
health, and honest living. When a youth cannot 
restrain, he must abstain. Dr. Johnson's case is 
the case of many. He said, referring to his own 
habits, " Sir, I can abstain ; but I can't be moderate." 
But to wrestle vigorously and successfully with 
any vicious habit, we must not merely be satisfied 
with contending on the low ground of worldly 
prudence, though that is of use, but take stand 


upon a higher moral elevation. Mechanical aids, 
such as pledges, may be of service to some, but 
the great thing is to set up a high standard of 
thinking and acting, and endeavour to strengthen 
and purify the principles as well as to reform the 
habits. For this purpose a youth must study 
himself, watch his steps, and compare his thoughts 
and acts with his rule. The more knowledge of 
himself he gains, the more humble will he be, and 
perhaps the less confident in his own strength. 
But the discipline will be always found most valu- 
able which is acquired by resisting small present 
gratifications to secure a prospective greater and 
higher one. It is the noblest work in self-education 

" Real glory 

Springs from the silent conquest of ourselves, 
And without that the conqueror is nought 
But the first slave." 

Many popular books have been written for the 
purpose of communicating to the public the "grand 
secret of making money. But there is no secret 
whatever about it, as the proverbs of every nation 
abundantly testify. " Take care of the pennies and 
the pounds will take care of themselves." " Dili- 
gence is the mother of good luck." " No pains, no 
gains." " No sweat, no sweet." " Work and thou 
shalt have." " The world is his who has patience 
and industry." " Better go to bed supperless than 
rise in debt." Such are specimens of the proverbial 
philosophy, embodying the hoarded experience of 
many generations, as to the best means of thriving 
in the world. They were current in people's 
mouths long before books were invented ; and, like 
other popular proverbs, they were the first codes of 


popular morals. Moreover, they have stood the test 
of time, and the experience of every day still bears 
witness to their accuracy, force, and soundness. 
The Proverbs of Solomon are full of wisdom as to 
the force of industry, and the use and abuse of 
money : " He that is slothful in work is brother 
to him that is a great waster." " Go to the ant, 
thou sluggard ; consider her ways, and be wise." 
Poverty, says the preacher, shall come upon the 
idler, " as one that travelleth, and want as an armed 
man " ; but of the industrious and upright, " the 
hand of the diligent maketh rich." " The drunkard 
and the glutton shall come to poverty ; and drowsi- 
ness shall clothe a man with rags." " Seest thou a 
man diligent in his business ? he shall stand before 
kings." But, above all, " It is better to get wisdom 
than gold ; for wisdom is better than rubies, and 
all the things that may be desired are not to be 
compared to it." 

Simple industry and thrift will go far towards 
making any person of ordinary working faculty 
comparatively independent in his means. Even a 
working man may be so, provided he will carefully 
husband his resources, and watch the little outlets 
of useless expenditure. A penny is a very small 
matter, yet the comfort of thousands of families 
depends upon the proper spending and saving of 
pennies. If a man allows the little pennies, the 
results of his hard work, to slip out of his fingers 
some to the beershop, some this way and some that 
he will find that his life is little raised above one 
of mere animal drudgery. On the other hand, if he 
take care of the pennies putting some weekly into 
a benefit society or an insurance fund, others into 
a savings bank, and confiding the rest to his wife 


to be carefully laid out, with a view to the comfort- 
able maintenance and education of his family he 
will soon find that this attention to small matters 
will abundantly repay him, in increasing means, 
growing comfort at home, and a mind comparatively 
free from fears as to the future. And if a working 
man have high ambition and possess richness in 
spirit a kind of wealth which far transcends all 
mere worldly possessions he may not only help 
himself, but be a profitable helper of others in his 
path through life. That this is no impossible thing 
even for a common labourer in a workshop may be 
illustrated by the remarkable career of Thomas 
Wright of Manchester, who not only attempted, but 
succeeded in, the reclamation of many criminals 
while working for weekly wages in a foundry. 

Accident first directed Thomas Wright's atten- 
tion to the difficulty encountered by liberated 
convicts in returning to habits of honest industry. 
His mind was shortly possessed by the subject ; 
and to remedy the evil became the purpose of his 
life. Though he worked from six in the morning 
till six at night, still there were leisure minutes 
that he could call his own more especially his 
Sundays and these he employed in the service 
of convicted criminals ; a class then far more 
neglected than they are now. But a few minutes 
a day, well employed, can effect a great deal ; and 
it will scarcely be credited, that in ten years this 
working man, by steadfastly holding to his purpose, 
succeeded in rescuing not fewer than three hundred 
felons from continuance in a life of villainy! He 
came to be regarded as the moral physician of the 
Manchester Old Bailey ; and where the Chaplain 
and all others failed, Thomas Wright often 


succeeded. Children he thus restored reformed to 
their parents ; sons and daughters, otherwise lost, 
to their homes ; and many a returned convict did he 
contrive to settle down to honest and industrious 
pursuits. The task was by no means easy. It 
required money, time, energy, prudence, and above 
all, character, and the confidence which character 
invariably inspires. The most remarkable circum- 
stance was that Wright relieved many of these 
poor outcasts out of the comparatively small wages 
earned by him at foundry work. He did all this 
on an income which did not average, during his 
working career, ioo/. per annum; and yet, while 
he was able to bestow substantial aid on criminals, 
to whom he owed no more than the service of 
kindness which every human being owes to 
another, he also maintained his family in comfort, 
and was, by frugality and carefulness, enabled to 
lay by a store of savings against his approaching 
old age. Every week he apportioned his income 
with deliberate care ; so much for the indispensable 
necessaries of food and clothing, so much for the 
landlord, so much for the schoolmaster, so much 
for the poor and needy ; and the lines of distribu- 
tion were resolutely observed. By such means 
did this humble workman pursue his great work, 
with the results we have so briefly described. 
Indeed, his career affords one of the most remark- 
able and striking illustrations of the force of 
purpose in a man, of the might of small means 
carefully and sedulously applied, and, above all, 
of the power which an energetic and upright 
character invariably exercises upon the lives and 
conduct of others. 
There is no discredit, but honour, in every right 


walk of industry, whether it be in tilling the 
ground, making tools, weaving fabrics, or selling 
the products behind a counter. A youth may 
handle a yard-stick, or measure a piece of ribbon ; 
and there will be no discredit in doing so, unless 
he allows his mind to have no higher range than 
the stick and ribbon ; to be as short as the one, 
and as narrow as the other. " Let not those blush 
who have" said Fuller, " but those who have not 
a lawful calling." And Bishop Hall said, " Sweet 
is the destiny of all trades, whether of the brow 
or of the mind." Men who have raised themselves 
from a humble calling need not be ashamed, but 
rather ought to be proud of the difficulties they 
have surmounted. An American President, when 
asked what was his coat-of-arms, remembering that 
he had been a hewer of wood in his youth, replied, 
"A pair of shirt sleeves." A French doctor once 
taunted Flechier, Bishop of Nismes, who had been 
a tallow-chandler in his youth, with the meanness 
of his origin, to which Flechier replied, " If you 
had been born in the same condition that I was, 
you would still have been but a maker of candles." 

Nothing is more common than energy in money- 
making, quite independent of any higher object 
than its accumulation. A man who devotes himself 
to this pursuit, body and soul, can scarcely fail to 
become rich. Very little brains will do ; spend 
less than you earn; add guinea to guinea; scrape 
and save ; and the pile of gold will gradually rise. 
Osterwald, the Parisian banker, began life a poor 
man. He was accustomed every evening to drink 
a pint of beer for supper at a tavern which he 
visited, during which he collected and pocketed 
all the corks that he could lay his hands on. In 


eight years he had collected as many corks as sold 
for eight louis d'ors. With that sum he laid the 
foundations of his fortune gained mostly by stock- 
jobbing; leaving at his death some three millions 
of francs. John Foster has cited a striking illustra- 
tion of what this kind of determination will do in 
money-making. A young man who ran through 
his patrimony, spending it in profligacy, was at 
length reduced to utter want and despair. He 
rushed out of his house intending to put an end 
to his life, and stopped on arriving at an eminence 
overlooking what were once his estates. He sat 
down, ruminated for a time, and rose with the 
determination that he would recover them. He 
returned to the streets, saw a load of coals which 
had been shot out of a cart on to the pavement 
before a house, offered to carry them in, and was 
employed. He thus earned a few pence, requested 
some meat and drink as a gratuity, which was 
given him, and the pennies were laid by. Pursuing 
this menial labour, he earned and saved more 
pennies; accumulated sufficient to enable him to 
purchase some cattle, the value of which he under- 
stood, and these he sold to advantage. He pro- 
ceeded by degrees to undertake larger transactions, 
until at length he became rich. The result was, 
that he more than recovered his possessions, and 
died an inveterate miser. When he was buried, 
mere earth went to earth. With a nobler spirit, 
the same determination might have enabled such 
a man to be a benefactor to others as well as to 
himself. But the life and its end in this case were 
alike sordid. 

To provide for others and for our own comfort 
and independence in old age, is honourable, and 


greatly to be commended; but to hoard for mere 
wealth's sake is the characteristic of the narrow- 
souled and the miserly. It is against the growth 
of this habit of inordinate saving that the wise man 
needs most carefully to guard himself: else, what 
in youth was simple economy may in old age grow 
into avarice, and what was a duty in the one case 
may become a vice in the other. It is the love of 
money not money itself which is "the root of 
evil," a love which narrows and contracts the soul, 
and closes it against generous life and action. Hence, 
Sir Walter Scott makes one of his characters declare 
that " the penny siller slew more souls than the 
naked sword slew bodies." It is one of the defects 
of business too exclusively followed, that it in- 
sensibly tends to a mechanism of character. The 
business man gets into a rut, and often does not 
look beyond it. If he lives for himself only, he 
becomes apt to regard other human beings only 
in so far as they minister to his ends. Take a 
leaf from such men's ledger and you have their life. 
Worldly success, measured by the accumulation 
of money, is no doubt a very dazzling thing ; and 
all men are naturally more or less the admirers 
of worldly success. But though men of persevering, 
sharp, dexterous, and unscrupulous habits, ever 
on the watch to push opportunities, may and do 
" get on " in the world, yet it is quite possible that 
they may not possess the slightest elevation of 
character, nor a particle of real goodness. He who 
recognizes no higher logic than that of the shilling, 
may become a very rich man, and yet remain all 
the while an exceedingly poor creature. For riches 
are no proof whatever of moral worth ; and their 
glitter often serves only to draw attention to the 


worthlessness of their possessor, as the light of 
the glow-worm reveals the grub. 

The manner in which many allow themselves 
to be sacrificed to their love of wealth reminds 
one of the cupidity of the monkey that caricature 
of our species. In Algiers, the Kabyle peasant 
attaches a gourd, well fixed, to a tree, and places 
within it some rice. The gourd has an opening 
merely sufficient to admit the monkey's paw. The 
creature comes to the tree by night, inserts his 
paw, and grasps his booty. He tries to draw it 
back, but it is clenched, and he has not the wisdom 
to unclench it. So there he stands till morning, 
when he is caught, looking as foolish as may be, 
though with the prize in his grasp. The moral of 
this little story is capable of a very extensive 
application in life. 

The power of money is on the whole over- 
estimated. The greatest things which have been 
done for the world have not been accomplished by 
rich men, nor by subscription lists, but by men 
generally of small pecuniary means. Christianity 
was propagated over half the world by men of the 
poorest class ; and the greatest thinkers, discoverers, 
inventors, and artists have been men of moderate 
wealth, many of them little raised above the con- 
dition of manual labourers in point of worldly 
circumstances. And it will always be so. Riches 
are oftener an impediment than a stimulus to action ; 
and in many cases they are quite as much a mis- 
fortune as a blessing. The youth who inherits 
wealth is apt to have life made too easy for him, 
and he soon grows sated with it, because he has 
nothing left to desire. Having no special object 
to struggle for, he finds time hang heavy on his 


hands ; he remains morally and spiritually asleep ; 
and his position in society is often no higher than 
that of a polypus over which the tide floats. 

"His only labour is to kill the time, 
And labour dire it is, and weary woe." 

Yet the rich man, inspired by a right spirit will 
spurn idleness as unmanly ; and if he bethink him- 
self of the responsibilities which attach to the 
possession of wealth and property he will feel even 
a higher call to work than men of humbler lot. 
This, however, must be admitted to be by no means 
the practice of life. The golden mean of Agur's 
perfect prayer is, perhaps, the best lot of all, did 
we but know it : " Give me neither poverty nor 
riches ; feed me with food convenient for me." The 
late Joseph Brotherton, M.P., left a fine motto to 
be recorded upon his monument in the Peel Park 
at Manchester, the declaration in his case being 
strictly true : " My richness consisted not in the 
greatness of my possessions, but in the smallness 
of my wants." He rose from the humblest station, 
that of a factory boy, to an eminent position of use- 
fulness, by the simple exercise of homely honesty, 
industry, punctuality, and self-denial. Down to the 
close of his life, when not attending Parliament, he 
did duty as minister in a small chapel in Manchester 
to which he was attached; and in all things he 
made it appear, to those who knew him in private 
life, that the glory he sought was not " to be seen 
of men," or to excite their praise, but to earn the 
consciousness of discharging the every-day duties 
of life, down to the smallest and humblest of them, 
in an honest, upright, truthful, and loving spirit. 

" Respectability," in its best sense, is good. The 


respectable man is one worthy of regard, literally 
worth turning to look at. But the respectability 
that consists in merely keeping up appearances is 
not worth looking at in any sense. Far better and 
more respectable is the good poor man than the 
bad rich one better the humble silent man than 
the agreeable well appointed rogue who keeps his 
gig. A well balanced and well stored mind, a 
life full of useful purpose, whatever the position 
occupied in it may be, is of far greater importance 
than average worldly respectability. The highest 
object of life we take to be to form a manly 
character, and to work out the best development 
possible, of body and spirit of mind, conscience, 
heart, and soul. This is the end : all else ought to 
be regarded but as the means. Accordingly, that 
is not the most successful life in which a man gets 
the most pleasure, the most money, the most power 
or place, honour or fame ; but that in which a man 
gets the most manhood, and performs the greatest 
amount of useful work and of human duty. Money 
is power after its sort, it is true ; but intelligence, 
public spirit, and moral virtue, are powers too, and 
far nobler ones. " Let others plead for pensions," 
wrote Lord Collingwood to a friend ; " I can be 
rich without money, by endeavouring to be superior 
to everything poor. I would have my services to 
my country unstained by any interested motive; 
and old Scott * and I can go on in our cabbage- 

* His old gardener. Collingwood's favourite amusement was 
gardening. Shortly after the battle of Trafalgar a brother 
admiral called upon him, and, after searching for his lordship 
all over the garden, he at last discovered him, with old Scott, 
in the bottom of a deep trench which they were busily employed 
in digging. 


garden without much greater expense than formerly." 
On another occasion he said, " I have motives for 
my conduct which I would not give in exchange 
for a hundred pensions." 

The making of a fortune may no doubt enable 
some people to " enter society," as it is called ; 
but to be esteemed there, they must possess 
qualities of mind, manners, or heart, else they are 
merely rich people, nothing more. There are 
men " in society " now, as rich as Croesus, who 
have no consideration extended towards them, and 
elicit no respect. For why? They are but as 
money-bags : their only power is in their till. The 
men of mark in society the guides and rulers of 
opinion the really successful and useful men 
are not necessarily rich men ; but men of sterling 
character, of disciplined experience, and of moral 
excellence. Even the poor man, like Thomas 
Wright, though he possess but little of this world's 
goods, may, in the enjoyment of a cultivated nature, 
of opportunities used and not abused, of a life spent 
to the best of his means and ability, look down, 
without the slightest feeling of envy, upon the 
person of mere worldly success, the man of money- 
bags and acres. 


" Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others, 
and one, more important, which he gives to himself." Gibbon. 

"Is there one whom difficulties dishearten who bends to the storm? 
He will do little. Is there one who will conquer ? That kind of man 
never fails." -John Hunter. 

" The wise and active conquer difficulties, 
By daring to attempt them : sloth and folly 
Shiver and shrink at sight of toil and danger, 
And make the impossibility they fear." Rome. 

THE best part of every man's education," said 
Sir Walter Scott, " is that which he gives to 
himself." The late Sir Benjamin Brodie de- 
lighted to remember this saying, and he used to 
congratulate himself on the fact that professionally 
he was self-taught. But this is necessarily the 
case with all men who have acquired distinction 
in letters, science, or art. The education received 
at school or college is but a beginning, and is 
valuable mainly inasmuch as it trains the mind and 
habituates it to continuous application and study. 
That which is put into us by others is always far 
less ours than that which we acquire by our own 
diligent and persevering effort. Knowledge con- 
quered by labour becomes a possession a property 
entirely our own. A greater vividness and per- 

369 24 


manency of impression is secured ; and facts thus 
acquired become registered in the mind in a way that 
mere imparted information can never effect. This 
kind of self-culture also calls forth power and 
cultivates strength. The solution of one problem 
helps the mastery of another ; and thus knowledge 
is carried into faculty. Our own active effort is 
the essential thing; and no facilities, no books, 
no teachers, no amount of lessons learnt by rote 
will enable us to dispense with it. 

The best teachers have been the readiest to 
recognize the importance of self-culture, and of 
stimulating the student to acquire knowledge by 
the active exercise of his own faculties. They have 
relied more upon training than upon telling, and 
sought to make their pupils themselves active 
parties to the work in which they were engaged; 
thus making teaching something far higher than 
the mere passive reception of the scraps and details 
of knowledge. This was the spirit in which the 
great Dr. Arnold worked ; he strove to teach his 
pupils to rely upon themselves, and develop their 
powers by their own active efforts, himself merely 
guiding, directing, stimulating, and encouraging 
them. " I would far rather," he said, " send a boy 
to Van Diemen's Land, where he must work for 
his bread, than send him to Oxford to live in luxury, 
without any desire in his mind to avail himself of 
his advantages." " If there be one thing on earth," 
he observed on another occasion, "which is truly 
admirable, it is to see God's wisdom blessing an 
inferiority of natural powers, when they have been 
honestly, truly, and zealously cultivated." Speak- 
ing of a pupil of this character, he said, " I would 
stand to that man hat in hand." Once at Laleham, 


when teaching a rather dull boy, Arnold spoke 
somewhat sharply to him, on which the pupil 
looked up in his face and said, " Why do you speak 
angrily, sir ? indeed, I am doing the best I can." 
Years afterwards, Arnold used to tell the story 
to his children, and added, " I never felt so much 
in my life that look and that speech I have never 

From the numerous instances already cited of 
men of humble station who have risen to distinction 
in science and literature, it will be obvious that 
labour is by no means incompatible with the 
highest intellectual culture. Work in moderation 
is healthy, as well as agreeable to the human 
constitution. Work educates the body, as study 
educates the mind; and that is the best state of 
society in which there is some work for every man's 
leisure, and some leisure for every man's work. 
Even the leisure classes are in a measure compelled 
to work, sometimes as a relief from ennui, but in 
most cases to gratify an instinct which they cannot 
resist. Some go fox-hunting in the English 
counties, others grouse-shooting on the Scotch 
hills, while many wander away every summer to 
climb mountains in Switzerland. Hence the boat- 
ing, running, cricketing, and athletic sports of the 
public schools, in which our young men at the 
same time so healthfully cultivate their strength 
both of mind and body. It is said that the Duke 
of Wellington, when once looking on at the boys 
engaged in their sports in the play-ground at Eton, 
where he had spent many of his own younger days, 
made the remark, " It was there that the battle of 
Waterloo was won ! " 

Daniel Malthus urged his son when at college 


to be most diligent in the cultivation of knowledge, 
but he also enjoined him to pursue manly sports 
as the best means of keeping up the full working 
power of his mind, as well as of enjoying the 
pleasures of intellect. " Every kind of knowledge," 
said he, "every acquaintance with nature and art, 
will amuse and strengthen your mind, and I am 
perfectly pleased that cricket should do the same 
by your arms and legs; I love to see you excel 
in exercises of the body, and I think myself that 
the better half, and much the most agreeable part, 
of the pleasures of the mind is best enjoyed while 
one is upon one's legs." But a still more important 
use of active employment is that referred to by 
the great divine, Jeremy Taylor. " Avoid idleness," 
he says, " and fill up all the spaces of thy time 
with severe and useful employment ; for lust easily 
creeps in at those emptinesses where the soul is 
unemployed and the body is at ease ; for no easy, 
healthful, idle person was ever chaste if he could 
be tempted ; but of all employments bodily labour 
is the most useful, and of the greatest benefit for 
driving away the devil." 

Practical success in life depends more upon 
physical health than is generally imagined. Hodson, 
of Hodson's Horse, writing home to a friend in 
England, said, " I believe, if I get on well in India, 
it will be owing, physically speaking, to a sound 
digestion." The capacity for continuous working 
in any calling must necessarily depend in a great 
measure upon this ; and hence the necessity for 
attending to health, even as a means of intellectual 
labour. It is perhaps to the neglect of physical 
exercise that we find amongst students so frequent 
a tendency towards discontent, unhappiness, in- 


action, and reverie, displaying itself in contempt 
for real life and disgust at the beaten tracks of 
men, a tendency which in England has been 
called Byronism, and in Germany Wertherism. 
Dr. Channing noted the same growth in America, 
which led him to make the remark, that "too many 
of our young men grow up in a school of despair." 
The only remedy for this green-sickness in youth 
is physical exercise action, work, and bodily 

The use of early labour in self-imposed mechani- 
cal employments may be illustrated by the boyhood 
of Sir Isaac Newton. Though a comparatively 
dull scholar, he was very assiduous in the use of 
his saw, hammer, and hatchet " knocking and 
hammering in his lodging-room " making models 
of windmills, carriages, and machines of all sorts ; 
and as he grew older, he took delight in making 
little tables and cupboards for his friends. Smeaton, 
Watt, and Stephenson were equally handy with 
tools when mere boys; and but for such kind of 
self-culture in their youth it is doubtful whether 
they would have accomplished so much in their 
manhood. Such was also the early training of the 
great inventors and mechanics described in the 
preceding pages, whose contrivance and intelligence 
were practically trained by the constant use of their 
hands in early life. Even where men belonging 
to the manual labour class have risen above it, and 
become more purely intellectual labourers, they 
have found the advantages of their early training 
in their later pursuits. Elihu Burritt says he found 
hard labour necessary to enable him to study with 
effect; and more than once he gave up school- 
teaching and study, and, taking to his leather apron 


again, went back to his blacksmith's forge and 
anvil for his health of body and mind's sake. 

The training of young men in the use of tools 
would, at the same time that it educated them in 
" common things," teach them the use of their 
hands and arms, familiarize them with healthy work, 
exercise their faculties upon things tangible and 
actual, give them some practical acquaintance with 
mechanics, impart to them the ability of being 
useful, and implant in them the habit of persevering 
physical effort. This is an advantage which the 
working classes, strictly so called, certainly possess 
over the leisure classes, that they are in early 
life under the necessity of applying themselves 
laboriously to some mechanical pursuit or other, 
thus acquiring manual dexterity and the use of 
their physical powers. The chief disadvantage 
attached to the calling of the laborious classes is, 
not that they are employed in physical work, but 
that they are too exclusively so employed, often to 
the neglect of their moral and intellectual faculties. 
While the youths of the leisure classes, having 
been taught to associate labour with servility, have 
shunned it, and been allowed to grow up practically 
ignorant, the poorer classes, confining themselves 
within the circle of their laborious callings, have 
been allowed to grow up in a large proportion of 
cases absolutely illiterate. It seems possible, how- 
ever, to avoid both these evils by combining physical 
training or physical work with intellectual culture : 
and there are various signs abroad which seem 
to mark the gradual adoption of this healthier 
system of education. 

The success of even professional men depends in 
no slight degree on their physical health ; and a 


public writer has gone so far as to say that "the 
greatness of our great men is quite as much a bodily 
affair as a mental one." * A healthy breathing ap- 
paratus is as indispensable to the successful lawyer 
or politician as a well-cultured intellect. The 
thorough ae'ration of the blood, by free exposure to a 
large breathing surface in the lungs, is necessary to 
maintain that full vital power on which the vigorous 
working of the brain in so large a measure depends. 
The lawyer has to climb the heights of his pro- 
fession through close and heated courts, and the 
political leader has to bear the fatigue and excite- 
ment of long and anxious debates in a crowded 
House. Hence the lawyer in full practice and 
the parliamentary leader in full work are called 
upon to display powers of physical endurance and 
activity even more extraordinary than those of the 
intellect, such powers as have been exhibited in 
so remarkable a degree by Brougham, Lyndhurst, 
and Campbell ; by Peel, Graham, and Palmerston 
all full-chested men. 

Though Sir Walter Scott, when at Edinburgh 
College, went by the name of " The Greek Block- 
head," he was, notwithstanding his lameness, a 
remarkably healthy youth : he could spear a salmon 
with the best fisher on the Tweed, and ride a wild 
horse with any hunter in Yarrow. When devoting 
himself in after life to literary pursuits, Sir Walter 
never lost his taste for field sports; but while 
writing 'Waverley' in the morning, he would in 
the afternoon course hares. Professor Wilson was 
a very athlete, as great at throwing the hammer 
as in his flights of eloquence and poetry; and 
Burns, when a youth, was remarkable chiefly for 

* Article in the ' Times.' 


his leaping, putting, and wrestling. Some of our 
greatest divines were distinguished in their youth 
for their physical energies. Isaac Barrow, when 
at the Charterhouse School, was notorious for his 
pugilistic encounters, in which he got many a 
bloody nose ; Andrew Fuller, when working as 
a farmer's lad at Soham, was chiefly famous for 
his skill in boxing ; and Adam Clarke, when a boy, 
was only remarkable for the strength displayed 
by him in " rolling large stones about," the secret, 
possibly, of some of the power which he subse- 
quently displayed in rolling forth large thoughts 
in his manhood. 

While it is necessary, then, in the first place 
to secure this solid foundation of physical health, 
it must also be observed that the cultivation of the 
habit of mental application is quite indispensable 
for the education of the student. The maxim that 
" Labour conquers all things " holds especially true 
in the case of the conquest of knowledge. The 
road into learning is alike free to all who will give 
the labour and the study requisite to gather it ; 
nor are there any difficulties so great that the 
student of resolute purpose may not surmount and 
overcome them. It was one of the characteristic 
expressions of Chatterton, that God had sent His 
creatures into the world with arms long enough 
to reach anything if they chose to be at the trouble. 
In study, as in business, energy is the great thing. 
There must be the fervet opus : we must not 
only strike the iron while it is hot, but strike it 
till it is made hot. It is astonishing how much 
may be accomplished in self-culture by the energetic 
and the persevering, who are careful to avail them- 
selves of opportunities, and use up the fragments 


of spare time which the idle permit to run to waste. 
Thus Ferguson learnt astronomy from the heavens, 
while wrapt in a sheep-skin on the highland hills ; 
thus Stone learnt mathematics while working as 
a journeyman gardener; thus Drew studied the 
highest philosophy in the intervals of cobbling 
shoes; and thus Miller taught himself geology 
while working as a day labourer in a quarry. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds, as we have already ob- 
served, was so earnest a believer in the force of 
industry that he held that all men might achieve 
excellence if they would but exercise the power of 
assiduous and patient working. He held that 
drudgery lay on the road to genius, and that there 
was no limit to the proficiency of an artist except 
the limit of his own painstaking. He would not 
believe in what is called inspiration, but only in 
study and labour. " Excellence," he said, " is never 
granted to man but as the reward of labour." " If 
you have great talents, industry will improve them ; 
if you have but moderate abilities, industry will 
supply their deficiency. Nothing is denied to well- 
directed labour; nothing is to be obtained without 
it." Sir Fowell Buxton was an equal believer in 
the power of study; and he entertained the modest 
idea that he could do as well as other men if he 
devoted to the pursuit double the time and labour 
that they did. He placed his great confidence in 
ordinary means and extraordinary application. 

" I have known several men in my life," says Dr. 
Ross, " who may be recognized in days to come as 
men of genius, and they were all plodders, hard- 
working, intent men. Genius is known by its 
works ; genius without works is a blind faith, a 
dumb oracle. But meritorious works are the result 


of time and labour, and cannot be accomplished by 
intention or by a wish. . . . Every great work is 
the result of vast preparatory training. Facility 
comes by labour. Nothing seems easy, not even 
walking, that was not difficult at first. The orator 
whose eye flashes instantaneous fire, and whose 
lips pour out a flood of noble thoughts, startling by 
their unexpectedness, and elevating by their wisdom 
and truth, has learned his secret by patient repeti- 
tion, and after many bitter disappointments."* 

Thoroughness and accuracy are two principal 
points to be aimed at in study. Francis Horner, in 
laying down rules for the cultivation of his mind, 
placed great stress upon the habit of continuous 
application to one subject for the sake of mastering 
it thoroughly ; he confined himself, with this object, 
to only a few books, and resisted with the greatest 
firmness " every approach to a habit of desultory 
reading." The value of knowledge to any man 
consists not in its quantity, but mainly in the good 
uses to which he can apply it. Hence a little 
knowledge, of an exact and perfect character, is 
always found more valuable for practical purposes 
than any extent of superficial learning. 

One of Ignatius Loyola's maxims was, " He who 
does well one work at a time, does more than all." 
By spreading our efforts over too large a surface 
we inevitably weaken our force, hinder our pro- 
gress, and acquire a habit of fitfulness and ineffective 
working. Lord St. Leonards once communicated 

* ' Self-Development : an Address to Students,' by George 
Ross, M.D., pp. 1-20, reprinted from the ' Medical Circular.' This 
address, to which we acknowledge our obligations, contains many 
admirable thoughts on self-culture, is thoroughly healthy in its 
tone, and well deserves republication in an enlarged form, 


to Sir Fowell Buxton the mode in which he had 
conducted his studies, and thus explained the secret 
of his success. " I resolved," said he, " when be- 
ginning to read law, to make everything I acquired 
perfectly my own, and never to go to a second 
thing till I had entirely accomplished the first. 
Many of my competitors read as much in a day as 
I read in a week ; but, at the end of twelve months, 
my knowledge was as fresh as the day it was 
acquired, while theirs had glided away from 

It is not the quantity of study that one gets 
through, or the amount of reading, that makes a 
wise man ; but the appositeness of the study to the 
purpose for which it is pursued ; the concentration 
of the mind for the time being on the subject under 
consideration ; and the habitual discipline by which 
the whole system of mental application is regulated. 
Abernethy was even of opinion that there was a 
point of saturation in his own mind, and that if 
he took into it something more than it could bold, 
it only had the effect of pushing something else 
out. Speaking of the study of medicine, he said, 
" If a man has a clear idea of what he desires to do, 
he will seldom fail in selecting the proper means 
of accomplishing it." 

The most profitable study is that which is 
conducted with a definite aim and object. By 
thoroughly mastering any given branch of know- 
ledge we render it more available for use at any 
moment. Hence it is not enough merely to have 
books, or to know where to read for information 
as we want it. Practical wisdom, for the purposes 
of life, must be carried about with us, and be ready 
for use at call. It is not sufficient that we have a 


fund laid up at home, but not a farthing in the 
pocket: we must carry about with us a store of 
the current coin of knowledge ready for exchange 
on all occasions, else we are comparatively helpless 
when the opportunity for using it occurs. 

Decision and promptitude are as requisite in 
self-culture as in business. The growth of these 
qualities may be encouraged by accustoming young 
people to rely upon their own resources, leaving 
them to enjoy as much freedom of action in early 
life as is practicable. Too much guidance and 
restraint hinder the formation of habits of self- 
help. They are like bladders tied under the arms 
of one who has not taught himself to swim. Want 
of confidence is perhaps a greater obstacle to im- 
provement than is generally imagined. It has 
been said that half the failures in life arise from 
pulling in one's horse while he is leaping. Dr. 
Johnson was accustomed to attribute his success 
to confidence in his own powers. True modesty 
is quite compatible with a due estimate of one's 
own merits, and does not demand the abnegation 
of all merit. Though there are those who deceive 
themselves by putting a false figure before their 
ciphers, the want of confidence, the want of faith 
in one's self, and consequently the want of prompti- 
tude in action, is a defect of character which is 
found to stand very much in the way of individual 
progress ; and the reason why so little is done, is 
generally because so little is attempted. 

There is usually no want of desire on the part 
of most persons to arrive at the results of self- 
culture, but there is a great aversion to pay the 
inevitable price for it, of hard work. Dr. Johnson 
held that "impatience of study was the mental 


disease of the present generation;" and the re- 
mark is still applicable. We may not believe that 
there is a royal road to learning, but we seem 
to believe very firmly in a "popular" one. In 
education, we invent labour-saving processes, seek 
short cuts to science, learn French and Latin "in 
twelve lessons," or "without a master." We re- 
semble the lady of fashion, who engaged a master 
to teach her on condition that he did not plague 
her with verbs and participles. We get our 
smattering of science in the same way; we learn 
chemistry by listening to a short course of lectures 
enlivened by experiments, and when we have in- 
haled laughing gas, seen green water turned to 
red, and phosphorus burnt in oxygen, we have 
got our smattering, of which the most that can 
be said is, that though it may be better than 
nothing, it is yet good for nothing. Thus we often 
imagine we are being educated while we are only 
being amused. 

The facility with which young people are thus 
induced to acquire knowledge, without study and 
labour, is not education. It occupies but does not 
enrich the mind. It imparts a stimulus for the 
time, and produces a sort of intellectual keenness 
and cleyerness ; but, without an implanted purpose 
and a higher object than mere pleasure, it will 
bring with it no solid advantage. In such cases 
knowledge produces but a passing impression ; a 
sensation, but no more ; it is, in fact, the merest 
epicurism of intelligence sensuous, but certainly 
not intellectual. Thus the best qualities of many 
minds, those which are evoked by vigorous effort 
and independent action, sleep a deep sleep, and are 
often never called to life, except by the rough 


awakening of sudden calamity or suffering, which, 
in such cases, comes as a blessing, if it serves to 
rouse up a courageous spirit that, but for it, would 
have slept on. 

Accustomed to acquire information under the 
guise of amusement, young people will soon reject 
that which is presented to them under the aspect of 
study and labour. Learning their knowledge and 
science in sport, they will be too apt to make sport 
of both ; while the habit of intellectual dissipation, 
thus engendered, cannot fail, in course of time, to 
produce a thoroughly emasculating effect both upon 
their mind and character. " Multifarious reading," 
said Robertson of Brighton, "weakens the mind 
like smoking, and is an excuse for its lying dormant. 
It is the idlest of all idlenesses, and leaves more of 
impotency than any other." 

The evil is a growing one, and operates in 
various ways. Its least mischief is shallowness; 
its greatest, the aversion to steady labour which it 
induces, and the low and feeble tone of mind which 
it encourages. If we would be really wise, we 
must diligently apply ourselves, and confront the 
same continuous application which our forefathers 
did ; for labour is still, and ever will be, the inevi- 
table price set upon everything which is valuable. 
We must be satisfied to work with a purpose, and 
wait the results with patience. All progress, of 
the best kind, is slow ; but to him who works faith- 
fully and zealously the reward will, doubtless, be 
vouchsafed in good time. The spirit of industry, 
embodied in a man's daily life, will gradually lead 
him to exercise his powers on objects outside him- 
self, of greater dignity and more extended useful- 
ness. And still we must labour on ; for the work 


of self-culture is never finished. " To be employed," 
said the poet Gray, " is to be happy." " It is better 
to wear out than rust out," said Bishop Cumberland. 
"Have we not all eternity to rest in?" exclaimed 
Arnauld. " Repos ailleurs " was the motto of 
Marnix de St. Aldegonde, the energetic and ever- 
working friend of William the Silent. 

It is the use we make of the powers entrusted 
to us which constitutes our only just claim to re- 
spect. He who employs his one talent aright is as 
much to be honoured as he to whom ten talents 
have been given. There is really no more personal 
merit attaching to the possession of superior in- 
tellectual powers than there is in the succession to 
a large estate. How are those powers used how 
is that estate employed ? The mind may accumu- 
late large stores of knowledge without any useful 
purpose; but the knowledge must be allied to 
goodness and wisdom, and embodied in upright 
character, else it is naught. Pestalozzi even held 
intellectual training by itself to be pernicious ; in- 
sisting that the roots of all knowledge must strike 
and feed in the soil of the rightly governed will. 
The acquisition of knowledge may, it is true, pro- 
tect a man against the meaner felonies of life ; but 
not in any degree against its selfish vices, unless 
fortified by sound principles and habits. Hence do 
we find in daily life so many instances of men who 
are well informed in intellect, but utterly deformed 
in character ; filled with the learning of the sch ols, 
yet possessing little practical wisdom, and offering 
examples for warning rather than imitation. An 
often quoted expression at this day is that " Know- 
ledge is power"; but so also are fanaticism, 
despotism, and ambition. Knowledge of itself, 


unless wisely directed, might merely make bad men 
more dangerous, and the society in which it was 
regarded as the highest good little better than a 

It is possible that at this day we may even 
exaggerate the importance of literary culture. We 
are apt to imagine that, because we possess many 
libraries, institutes, and museums, we are making 
great progress. But such facilities may as often 
be a hindrance as a help to individual self-culture 
of the highest kind. The possession of a library, 
or the free use of it, no more constitutes learning, 
than the possession of wealth constitutes generosity. 
Though we undoubtedly possess great facilities it 
is nevertheless true, as of old, that wisdom and 
understanding can only become the possession 
of individual men by travelling the old road of 
observation, attention, perseverance, and industry. 
The possession of the mere materials of knowledge 
is something very different from wisdom and under- 
standing, which are reached through a higher 
kind of discipline than that of reading, which is 
often but a mere passive reception of other men's 
thoughts ; there being little or no active effort 
of mind in the transaction. Then how much of 
our reading is but the indulgence of a sort of 
intellectual dram-drinking, imparting a grateful 
excitement for the moment, without the slightest 
effect in improving and enriching the mind or 
building up the character. Thus many indulge 
themselves in the conceit that they are cultivating 
their minds, when they are only employed in the 
humbler occupation of killing time, of which per- 
haps the best that can be said is that it keeps them 
from doing worse things. 


It is also to be borne in mind that the experi- 
ence gathered from books, though often valuable, 
is but of the nature of learning; whereas the ex- 
perience gained from actual life is of the nature 
of wisdom ; and a small store of the latter is worth 
vastly more than any stock of the former. Lord 
Bolingbroke truly said that, " Whatever study tends 
neither directly nor indirectly to make us better 
men and citizens is at best but a specious and 
ingenious sort of idleness, and the knowledge we 
acquire by it only a creditable kind of ignorance 
nothing more." 

Useful and instructive though good reading may 
be, it is yet only one mode of cultivating the mind ; 
and is much less influential than practical experi- 
ence and good example in the formation of character. 
There were wise, valiant, and true-hearted men 
bred in England long before the existence of a 
reading public. Magna Charta was secured by 
men who signed the deed with their marks. 
Though altogether unskilled in the art of decipher- 
ing the literary signs by which principles were 
denominated upon paper, they yet understood and 
appreciated, and boldly contended for, the things 
themselves. Thus the foundations of English 
liberty were laid by men who, though illiterate, 
were nevertheless of the very highest stamp of 
character. And it must be admitted that the chief 
object of culture is, not merely to fill the mind 
with other men's thoughts, and to be the passive 
recipient of their impressions of things, but to 
enlarge our individual intelligence, and render us 
more useful and efficient workers in the sphere 
of life to which we may be called. Many of our 
most energetic and useful workers have been but 



sparing readers. Brindley and Stephenson did not 
learn to read and write until they reached manhood 
and yet they did great works and lived manly, 
lives ; John Hunter could barely read or write 
when he was twenty years old, though he could 
make tables and chairs with any carpenter in the 
trade. " I never read," said the great physiologist 
when lecturing before his class ; " this " pointing 
to some part of the subject before him " this is the 
work that you must study if you wish to become 
eminent in your profession." When told that one 
of his contemporaries had charged him with being 
ignorant of the dead languages, he said, " I would 
undertake to teach him that on the dead body 
which he never knew in any language, dead or 

It is not, then, how much a man may know that 
is of importance, but the end and purpose for which 
he knows it. The object of knowledge should 
be to mature wisdom and improve character, to 
render us better, happier, and more useful ; more 
benevolent, more energetic, and more efficient in 
the pursuit of every high purpose in life. " When 
people once fall into the habit of admiring and 
encouraging ability as such, without reference to 
moral character and religious and political opinions 
are the concrete form of moral character they are 
on the highway to all sorts of degradation." * We 
must ourselves be and do, and not rest satisfied 
merely with reading and meditating over what 
other men have been and done. Our best light 
must be made life, and our best thought action. 
At least we ought to be able to say, as Richter did, 
" I have made as much out of myself as could be 
* ' Saturday Review. 


made of the stuff, and no man should require more " ; 
for it is every man's duty to discipline and guide 
himself, with God's help, according to his responsi- 
bilities and the faculties with which he has been 

Self-discipline and self-control are the beginnings 
of practical wisdom ; and these must have their 
root in self-respect. Hope springs from it hope, 
which is the companion of power, and the mother 
of success ; for whoso hopes strongly has within 
him the gift of miracles. The humblest may say, 
" To respect myself, to develop myself this is my 
true duty in life. An integral and responsible part 
of the great system of society, I owe it to society 
and to its Author not to degrade or destroy either 
my body, mind, or instincts. On the contrary, I 
am bound to the best of my power to give to those 
parts of my constitution the highest degree of 
perfection possible. I am not only to suppress the 
evil, but to evoke the good elements in my nature. 
And as I respect myself, so am I equally bound to 
respect others, as they on their part are bound 
to respect me." Hence mutual respect, justice, 
and order, of which law becomes the written record 
and guarantee. 

Self-respect is the noblest garment with which 
a man may clothe himself the most elevating 
feeling with which the mind can be inspired. One 
of Pythagoras's wisest maxims, in his ' Golden 
Verses,' is that with which he enjoins the pupil to 
,' reverence himself." Borne up by this high idea, 
he will not defile his body by sensuality, nor his 
mind by servile thoughts. This sentiment, carried 
into daily life, will be found at the root of all the 
virtues cleanliness, sobriety, chastity, morality, 


and religion. " The pious and just honouring of 
ourselves," said Milton, "may be thought the 
radical moisture and fountain-head from whence 
every laudable and worthy enterprise issues forth." 
To think meanly of one's self is to sink in one's 
own estimation, as well as in the estimation of 
others. And as the thoughts are, so will the acts 
be. Man cannot aspire if he look down ; if he will 
rise, he must look up. The very humblest may 
be sustained by the proper indulgence of this 
feeling. Poverty itself may be lifted and lighted 
up by self-respect ; and it is truly a noble sight 
to see a poor man hold himself upright amidst 
his temptations, and refuse to demean himself by 
low actions. 

One way in which self-culture may be degraded 
is by regarding it too exclusively as a means of 
"getting on." Viewed in this light, it is un- 
questionable that education is one of the best 
investments of time and labour. In any line of 
life, intelligence will enable a man to adapt himself 
more readily to circumstances, suggest improved 
methods of working, and render him more apt, 
skilled and effective in all respects. He who works 
with his head as well as his hands will come to 
look at his business with a clearer eye; and he 
will become conscious of increasing power perhaps 
the most cheering consciousness the human mind 
can cherish. The power of self-help will gradually 
grow; and in proportion to a man's self-respect, 
will he be armed against the temptation of low 
indulgences. Society and its action will be regarded 
with quite a new interest, his sympathies will 
widen and enlarge, and he will thus be attracted 
to work for others as well as for himself. 


Self-culture may not, however, end in eminence, 
as in the numerous instances above cited. The 
great majority of men, in all times, however en- 
lightened, must necessarily be engaged in the 
ordinary avocations of industry ; and no degree of 
culture which can be conferred upon the community 
at large will ever enable them even were it 
desirable, which it is not to get rid of the daily 
work of society, which must be done. But this, 
we think, may also be accomplished. We can 
elevate the condition of labour by allying it to 
noble thoughts, which confer a grace upon the 
lowliest as well as the highest rank. For no matter 
how poor or humble a man may be, the great 
thinker of this and other days may come in and sit 
down with him, and be his companion for the time, 
though his dwelling be the meanest hut. It is thus 
that the habit of well-directed reading may become 
a source of the greatest pleasure and self-improve- 
ment, and exercise a gentle coercion, with the most 
beneficial results, over the whole tenour of a man's 
character and conduct. And even though self- 
culture may not bring wealth, it will at all events 
give one the companionship of elevated thoughts. 
A nobleman once contemptuously asked of a sage, 
" What have you got by all your philosophy ? " 
"At least I have got society in myself," was the 
wise man's reply. 

But many are apt to feel despondent, and become 
discouraged in the work of self-culture, because they 
do not " get on " in the world so fast as they think 
they deserve to do. Having planted their acorn, 
they expect to see it grow into an oak at once. 
They have perhaps looked upon knowledge in 
the light of a marketable commodity, and are 


consequently mortified because it does not sell as 
they expected it would do. Mr. Tremenheere, in one 
of his ' Education Reports ' (for 1840-1), states that 
a schoolmaster in Norfolk, finding his school rapidly 
falling off, made inquiry into the cause, and ascer- 
tained that the reason given by the majority of the 
parents for withdrawing their children was, that 
they had expected "education was to make them 
better off than they were before," but that having 
found it had " done them no good," they had taken 
their children from school, and would give them- 
selves no further trouble about education ! 

The same low idea of self-culture is but too 
prevalent in other classes, and is encouraged by the 
false views of life which are always more or less 
current in society. But to regard self-culture either 
as a means of getting past others in the world or 
of intellectual dissipation and amusement, rather 
than as a power to elevate the character and expand 
the spiritual nature, is to place it on a very low 
level. To use the words of Bacon, " Knowledge 
is not a shop for profit or sale, but a rich storehouse 
for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's 
estate." It is doubtless most honourable for a man 
to labour to elevate himself, and to better his con- 
dition in society, but this is not to be done at the 
sacrifice of himself. To make the mind the mere 
drudge of the body is putting it to a very servile 
use ; and to go about whining and bemoaning our 
pitiful lot because we fail in achieving that success 
in life which, after all, depends rather upon habits of 
industry and attention to business details than upon 
knowledge, is the mark of a small, and often of a 
sour mind. Such a temper cannot better be re- 
proved than in the words of Robert Southey, who 


thus wrote to a friend who sought his counsel : 
" I would give you advice if it could be of use ; 
but there is no curing those who choose to be 
diseased. A good man and a wise man may at 
times be angry with the world, at times grieved for 
it ; but be sure no man was ever discontented with 
the world if he did his duty in it. If a man of 
education, who has health, eyes, hands, and leisure, 
wants an object, it is only because God Almighty 
has bestowed all those blessings upon a man who 
does not deserve them." 

Another way in which education may be pros- 
tituted is by employing it as a mere means of 
intellectual dissipation and amusement. Many are 
the ministers to this taste in our time. There is 
almost a mania for frivolity and excitement, which 
exhibits itself in many forms in our popular 
literature. To meet the public taste, our books and 
periodicals must now be highly spiced, amusing, 
and comic, not disdaining slang, and illustrative of 
breaches of all laws, human and divine. Douglas 
Jerrold once observed of this tendency, " I am con- 
vinced the world will get tired (at least, I hope so) 
of this eternal guffaw about all things. After all, 
life has something serious in it. It cannot be all a 
comic history of humanity. Some men would, I 
believe, write a Comic Sermon on the Mount. 
Think of a Comic History of England, the drollery 
of Alfred, the fun of Sir Thomas More, the farce of 
his daughter begging the dead head and clasping 
it in her coffin on her bosom. Surely the world 
will be sick of this blasphemy." John Sterling, in 
a like spirit, said : " Periodicals and novels are to 
all in this generation, but more especially to those 
whose minds are still unformed and in the process 


of formation, a new and more effectual substitute 
for the plagues of Egypt, vermin that corrupt the 
wholesome waters and infest our chambers." 

As a rest from toil and a relaxation from graver 
pursuits, the perusal of a well-written story, by a 
writer of genius, is a high intellectual pleasure ; 
and it is a description of literature to which all 
classes of readers, old and young, are attracted as 
by a powerful instinct ; nor would we have any of 
them debarred from its enjoyment in a reasonable 
degree. But to make it the exclusive literary diet, 
as some do, to devour the garbage with which the 
shelves of circulating libraries are filled, and to 
occupy the greater portion of the leisure hours in 
studying the preposterous pictures of human life 
which so many of them present, is worse than 
waste of time : it is positively pernicious. The 
habitual novel-reader indulges in fictitious feelings 
so much, that there is great risk of sound and 
healthy feeling becoming perverted or benumbed. 
" I never go to hear a tragedy," said a gay man 
once to the Archbishop of York, " it wears my 
heart out." The literary pity evoked by fiction 
leads to no corresponding action ; the suscepti- 
bilities which it excites involve neither incon- 
venience nor self-sacrifice ; so that the heart that 
is touched too often by the fiction may at length 
become insensible to the reality. The steel is 
gradually rubbed out of the character, and it in- 
sensibly loses its vital spring. " Drawing fine 
pictures of virtue in one's mind," said Bishop Butler, 
" is so far from necessarily or certainly conducive 
to form a habit of it in him who thus employs him- 
self, that it may even harden the mind in a contrary 
course, and render it gradually more insensible." 


Amusement in moderation is wholesome, and to 
be commended; but amusement in excess vitiates 
the whole nature, and is a thing to be carefully 
guarded against. The maxim is often quoted of 
" All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy " ; 
but all play and no work makes him something 
greatly worse. Nothing can be more hurtful to a 
youth than to have his soul sodden with pleasure. 
The best qualities of his mind are impaired ; 
common enjoyments become tasteless ; his appetite 
for the higher kind of pleasures is vitiated ; and 
when he comes to face the work and the duties of 
life, the result is usually aversion and disgust. 
" Fast " men waste and exhaust the powers of life, 
and dry up the sources of true happiness. Having 
forestalled their spring, they can produce no healthy 
growth of either character or intellect. A child 
without simplicity, a maiden without innocence, a 
boy without truthfulness, are not more piteous 
sights than the man who has wasted and thrown 
away his youth in self-indulgence. Mirabeau said 
of himself, " My early years have already in a 
great measure disinherited the succeeding ones, 
and dissipated a great part of my vital powers." 
As the wrong done to another to-day returns upon 
ourselves to-morrow, so the sins of our youth rise 
up in our age to scourge us. When Lord Bacon 
says that "strength of nature in youth passeth 
over many excesses which are owing a man until 
he is old," he exposes a physical as well as a moral 
fact which cannot be too well weighed in the con- 
duct of life. " I assure you," wrote Giusti the 
Italian to a friend, " I pay a heavy price for exist- 
ence. It is true that our lives are not at our own 
disposal. Nature pretends to give them gratis at 


the beginning, and then sends in her account" 
The worst of youthful indiscretions is, not that they 
destroy health, so much as that they sully manhood. 
The dissipated youth becomes a tainted man ; and 
often he cannot be pure, even if he would. If cure 
there be, it is only to be found in inoculating the 
mind with a fervent spirit of duty, and in energetic 
application to useful work. 

One of the most gifted of Frenchmen, in point 
of great intellectual endowments, was Benjamin 
Constant ; but blase at twenty, his life was only 
a prolonged wail, instead of a harvest of the great 
deeds which he was capable of accomplishing with 
ordinary diligence and self-control. He resolved 
upon doing so many things which he never did 
that people came to speak of him as Constant the 
Inconstant. He was a fluent and brilliant writer, 
and cherished the ambition of writing works, 
"which the world would not willingly let die." 
But whilst Constant affected the highest thinking, 
unhappily he practised the lowest living ; nor did 
the transcendentalism of his books atone for the 
meanness of his life. He frequented the gaming- 
tables while engaged in preparing his work upon 
religion, and carried on a disreputable intrigue 
while writing his 'Adolphe.' With all his powers 
of intellect, he was powerless, because he had no 
faith in virtue. " Bah !" said he, " what are honour 
and dignity? The longer I live, the more clearly 
I see there is nothing in them." It was the howl 
of a miserable man. He described himself as but 
" ashes and dust." " I pass," said he, " like a 
shadow over the earth, accompanied by misery and 
ennui." He wished for Voltaire's energy, which 
he would rather have possessed than his genius, 


But he had no strength of purpose nothing but 
wishes : his life, prematurely exhausted, had become 
but a heap of broken links. He spoke of himself 
as a person with one foot in the air. He admitted 
that he had no principles, and no more consistency. 
Hence, with his splendid talents, he contrived to 
do nothing ; and after living many years miserable, 
he died worn out and wretched. 

The career of Augustin Thierry, the author 
of the ' History of the Norman Conquest,' affords 
an admirable contrast to that of Constant. His 
entire life presented a striking example of persever- 
ance, diligence, self-culture, and untiring devotion 
to knowledge. In the pursuit he lost his eyesight, 
lost his health, but never lost his love of truth. 
When so feeble that he was carried from room 
to room, like a helpless infant, in the arms of a 
nurse, his brave spirit never failed him ; and, blind 
and helpless though he was, he concluded his 
literary career in the following noble words : " If, 
as I think, the interest of science is counted in the 
number of great national interests, I have given 
my country all that the soldier, mutilated on the 
field of battle, gives her. Whatever may be the 
fate of my labours, this example, I hope, will not 
be lost. I would wish it to serve to combat the 
species of moral weakness which is the disease of 
our present generation ; to bring back into the 
straight road of life some of those enervated souls 
that complain of wanting faith, that know not what 
to do, and seek everywhere, without finding it, 
an object of worship and admiration. Why say, 
with so much bitterness, that in the world, con- 
stituted as it is, there is no air for all lungs no 
employment for all minds ? Js not calm and 


serious study there ? and is not that a refuge, a 
hope, a field within the reach of all of us ? With 
it, evil days are passed over without their weight 
being felt. Every one can make his own destiny 
every one employ his life nobly. This is what I 
have done, and would do again if I had to re- 
commence my career ; I would choose that which 
has brought me where I am. Blind, and suffering 
without hope, and almost without intermission, I 
may give this testimony, which from me will not 
appear suspicious. There is something in the 
world better than sensual enjoyments, better than 
fortune, better than health itself it is devotion to 

Coleridge, in many respects, resembled Constant. 
He possessed equally brilliant powers, but was 
similarly infirm of purpose. With all his great 
intellectual gifts, he wanted the gift of industry, 
and was averse to continuous labour. He wanted 
also the sense of independence, and thought it no 
degradation to leave his wife and children to be 
maintained by the brain-work of the noble Southey, 
while he himself retired to Highgate Grove to 
discourse transcendentalism to his disciples, looking 
down contemptuously upon the honest work going 
forward beneath him amidst the din and smoke of 
London. With remunerative employment at his 
command he stooped to accept the charity of 
friends ; and notwithstanding his lofty ideas of 
philosophy, he condescended to humiliations from 
which many a day-labourer would have shrunk. 
How different in spirit was Southey ! labouring 
not merely at work of his own choice, and at task- 
work often tedious and distasteful, but also unre- 
mittingly and with the utmost eagerness seeking 


and storing knowledge purely for the love of it. 
Every day, every hour had its allotted employment : 
engagements to publishers requiring punctual ful- 
filment ; the current expenses of a large household 
duty to provide for : Southey had no crop growing 
while his pen was idle. "My ways," he used to 
say, "are as broad as the king's high-road, and 
my means lie in an inkstand." 

Robert Nicoll wrote to a friend, after reading 
the ' Recollections of Coleridge,' " What a mighty 
intellect was lost in that man for want of a little 
energy a little determination ! " Nicoll himself 
was a true and brave spirit, who died young, but 
not before he had encountered and overcome great 
difficulties in life. At his outset, while carrying on 
a small business as a bookseller, he found himself 
weighed down with a debt of only twenty pounds, 
which he said he felt "weighing like a millstone 
round his neck," and that, " if he had it paid he 
never would borrow again from mortal man." 
Writing to his mother at the time he said, " Fear 
not for me, dear mother, for I feel myself daily 
growing firmer and more hopeful in spirit. The 
more I think and reflect and thinking, not reading, 
is now my occupation I feel that, whether I be 
growing richer or not, I am growing a wiser man, 
which is far better. Pain, poverty, and all the other 
wild beasts of life which so affrighten others, I am 
so bold as to think I could look in the face with- 
out shrinking, without losing respect for myself, 
faith in man's high destinies, or trust in God. 
There is a point which it costs much mental toil 
and struggling to gain, but which, when once 
gained, a man can look down from, as a traveller 
from a lofty mountain, on storms raging below, 


while he is walking in sunshine. That I have yet 
gained this point in life I will not say, but I feel 
myself daily nearer to it." 

It is not ease, but effort not facility, but diffi- 
culty, that makes men. There is, perhaps, no 
station in life in which difficulties have not to be 
encountered and overcome before any decided 
measure of success can be achieved. Those diffi- 
culties are, however, our best instructors, as our 
mistakes often form our best experience. Charles 
James Fox was accustomed to say that he hoped 
more from a man who failed, and yet went on in 
spite of his failure, than from the buoyant career 
of the successful. " It is all very well," said he, 
" to tell me that a young man has distinguished 
himself by a brilliant first speech. He may go on, 
or he may be satisfied with his first triumph ; but 
show me a young man who has not succeeded at 
first, and nevertheless has gone on, and I will back 
that young man to do better than most of those 
who have succeeded at the first trial." 

We learn wisdom from failure much more than 
from success. We often discover what will do, by 
finding out what will not do ; and probably he who 
never made a mistake never made a discovery. It 
was the failure in the attempt to make a sucking- 
pump act, when the working bucket was more than 
thirty-three feet above the surface of the water 
to be raised, that led observant men to study the 
law of atmospheric pressure, and opened a new 
field of research to the genius of Galileo, Torrecelli, 
and Boyle. John Hunter used to remark that the 
art of surgery would not advance until professional 
men had the courage to publish their failures as 
well as their successes. Watt the engineer said, 


of all things most wanted in mechanical engineering 
was a history of failures : " We want," he said, 
"a book of blots." When Sir Humphry Davy 
was once shown a dexterously manipulated experi- 
ment, he said " I thank God I was not made a 
dexterous manipulator, for the most important of 
my discoveries have been suggested to me by 
failures." Another distinguished investigator in 
physical science has left it on record that, whenever 
in the course of his researches he encountered an 
apparently insuperable obstacle, he generally found 
himself on the brink of some discovery. The very 
greatest things great thoughts, discoveries, inven- 
tions have usually been nurtured in hardship, 
often pondered over in sorrow, and at length 
established with difficulty. 

Beethoven said of Rossini, that he had in him 
the stuff to have made a good musician if he had 
only, when a boy, been well flogged ; but that he 
had been spoilt by the facility with which he pro- 
duced. Men who feel their strength within them 
need not fear to encounter adverse opinions; they 
have far greater reason to fear undue praise and 
too friendly criticism. When Mendelssohn was 
about to enter the orchestra at Birmingham, on 
the first performance of his ' Elijah,' he said laugh- 
ingly to one of his friends and critics, " Stick your 
claws into me ! Don't tell me what you like, but 
what you don't like ! " 

It has been said, and truly, that it is the defeat 
that tries the general more than the victory. 
Washington lost more battles than he gained ; but 
he succeeded in the end. The Romans, in their 
most victorious campaigns, almost invariably began 
with defeats. Moreau used to be compared by his 


companions to a drum, which nobody hears of 
except it be beaten. Wellington's military genius 
was perfected by encounter with difficulties of 
apparently the most overwhelming character, but 
which only served to nerve his resolution, and 
bring out more prominently his great qualities as 
a man and a general. So the skilful mariner obtains 
his best experience amidst storms and tempest, 
which train him to self-reliance, courage, and the 
highest discipline ; and we probably owe to rough 
seas and wintry nights the best training of our 
race of British seamen, who are, certainly, not sur- 
passed by any in the world. 

Necessity may be a hard schoolmistress, but 
she is generally found the best. Though the or- 
deal of adversity is one from which we naturally 
shrink, yet, when it comes, we must bravely and 
manfully encounter it. Burns says truly, 

" Though losses and crosses 
Be lessons right severe, 
There's wit there, you'll get there, 
You'll find no other where." 

" Sweet indeed are the uses of adversity." They 
reveal to us our powers, and call forth our energies. 
If there be real worth in the character, like sweet 
herbs, it will give forth its finest fragrance when 
pressed. " Crosses," says the old proverb, " are 
the ladders that lead to heaven." "What is even 
poverty itself," asks Richter, " that a man should 
murmur under it ? It is but as the pain of piercing 
a maiden's ear, and you hang precious jewels in the 
wound." In the experience of life it is found that 
the wholesome discipline of adversity in strong 
natures usually carries with it a self-preserving 


influence. Many are found capable of bravely 
bearing up under privations, and cheerfully en- 
countering obstructions, who are afterwards found 
unable to withstand the more dangerous influences 
of prosperity. It is only a weak man whom the 
wind deprives of his cloak : a man of average 
strength is more in danger of losing it when assailed 
by the beams of a too genial sun. Thus it often 
needs a higher discipline and a stronger character 
to bear up under good fortune than under adverse. 
Some generous natures kindle and warm with pro- 
sperity, but there are many on whom wealth has 
no such influence. Base hearts it only hardens, 
making those who were mean and servile, mean 
and proud. But while prosperity is apt to harden 
the heart to pride, adversity in a man of resolution 
will serve to ripen it into fortitude. To use the 
words of Burke, " Difficulty is a severe instructor, 
set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental 
Guardian and Instructor, who knows us better than 
we know ourselves, as He loves us better too. He 
that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and 
sharpens our skill : our antagonist is thus our 
helper." Without the necessity of encountering 
difficulty, life might be easier, but men would be 
worth less. For trials, wisely improved, train the 
character, and teach self-help ; thus hardship itself 
may often prove the wholesomest discipline for us, 
though we recognize it not. When the gallant 
young Hodson, unjustly removed from his Indian 
command, felt himself sore pressed down by un- 
merited calumny and reproach, he yet preserved 
the courage to say to a friend, " I strive to look the 
worst boldly in the face, as I would an enemy in 
the field, and to do my appointed work resolutely 



and to the best of my ability, satisfied that there is 
a reason for all ; and that even irksome duties well 
done bring their own reward, and that, if not, still 
they are duties." 

The battle of life is, in most cases, fought up- 
hill ; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps 
to win it without honour. If there were no diffi- 
culties there would be no success; if there were 
nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to 
be achieved. Difficulties may intimidate the weak, 
but they act only as a wholesome stimulus to men 
of resolution and valour. All experience of life 
indeed serves to prove that the impediments thrown 
in the way of human advancement may for the most 
part be overcome by steady good conduct, honest 
zeal, activity, perseverance, and above all by a 
determined resolution to surmount difficulties, and 
stand up manfully against misfortune. 

The school of Difficulty is the best school of 
moral discipline, for nations as for individuals. 
Indeed, the history of difficulty would be but a 
history of all the great and good things that have 
yet been accomplished by men. It is hard to say 
how much northern nations owe to their encounter 
with a comparatively rude and changeable climate 
and an originally sterile soil, which is one of the 
necessities of their condition, involving a perennial 
struggle with difficulties such as the natives of 
sunnier climes know nothing of. And thus it may 
be, that, though our finest products are exotic, the 
skill and industry which have been necessary to 
rear them have issued in the production of a native 
growth of men not surpassed on the globe. 

Wherever there is difficulty, the individual man 
must come out for better, for worse. Encounter with 


it will train his strength, and discipline his skill; 
heartening him for future effort, as the racer, by 
being trained to run against the hill, at length 
courses with facility. The road to success may be 
steep to climb, and it puts to the proof the energies 
of him who would reach the summit. But by 
experience a man soon learns that obstacles are 
to be overcome by grappling with them, that the 
nettle feels as soft as silk when it is boldly grasped, 
and that the most effective help towards realizing 
the object proposed is the moral conviction that we 
can and will accomplish it. Thus difficulties often 
all away of themselves before the determination to 
overcome them. 

Much will be done if we do but try. Nobody 
knows what he can do till he has tried ; and few 
try their best till they have been forced to do it. 
"7/1 could do such and such a thing," sighs the 
desponding youth. But nothing will be done if he 
only wishes. The desire must ripen into purpose 
and effort; and one energetic attempt is worth a 
thousand aspirations. It is these thorny " ifs " 
the mutterings of impotence and despair which so 
often hedge round the field of possibility, and 
prevent anything being done or even attempted. 
"A difficulty," said Lord Lyndhurst, " is a thing to 
be overcome " ; grapple with it at once ; facility will 
come with practice, and strength and fortitude with 
repeated effort. Thus the mind and character may 
be trained to an almost perfect discipline, and 
enabled to act with a grace, spirit, and liberty 
almost incomprehensible to those who have not 
passed through a similar experience. 

Everything that we learn is the mastery of a 
difficulty; and the mastery of one helps to the 


mastery of others. Things which may at first sight 
appear comparatively valueless in education such 
as the study of the dead languages, and the relations 
of lines and surfaces which we call mathematics 
are really of the greatest practical value, not so 
much because of the information which they yield, 
as because of the development which they compel. 
The mastery of these studies evokes effort, and 
cultivates powers of application, which otherwise 
might have lain dormant. Thus one thing leads to 
another, and so the work goes on through life 
encounter with difficulty ending only when life and 
culture end. But indulging in the feeling of dis- 
couragement never helped any one over a difficulty, 
and never will. D'Alembert's advice to the student 
who complained to him about his want of success 
in mastering the first elements of mathematics was 
the right one " Go on, sir, and faith and strength 
will come to you." 

The danseuse who turns a pirouette, the violinist 
who plays a sonata, have acquired their dexterity 
by patient repetition and after many failures. 
Carissimi, when praised for the ease and grace of 
his melodies, exclaimed, " Ah ! you little know with 
what difficulty this ease has been acquired." Sir 
Joshua Reynolds, when once asked how long it had 
taken him to paint a certain picture, replied, " All 
my life." Henry Clay, the American orator, when 
giving advice to young men, thus described to them 
the secret of his success in the cultivation of his 
art : " I owe my success in life," said he, " chiefly to 
one circumstance that at the age of twenty-seven I 
commenced, and continued for years, the process 
of daily reading and speaking upon the contents of 
some historical or scientific book. These off-hand 

CHAP, xi] CURRAN 405 

efforts were made, sometimes in a corn-field, at 
others in the forest, and not unfrequently in some 
distant barn, with the horse and the ox for my 
auditors. It is to this early practice of the art of all 
arts that I am indebted for the primary and leading 
impulses that stimulated me onward and have 
shaped and moulded my whole subsequent 

Curran, the Irish orator, when a youth, had a 
strong defect in his articulation, and at school he 
was known as "stuttering Jack Curran." While 
he was engaged in the study of the law, and still 
struggling to overcome his defect, he was stung 
into eloquence by the sarcasms of a member of a 
debating club, who characterized him as " Orator 
Mum"; for, like Cowper, when he stood up to 
speak on a similar occasion, Curran had not been 
able to utter a word. The taunt stung him and 
he replied in a triumphant speech. This accidental 
discovery in himself of the gift of eloquence 
encouraged him to proceed in his studies with 
renewed energy. He corrected his enunciation by 
reading aloud, emphatically and distinctly, the best 
passages in literature, for several hours every day, 
studying his features before a mirror, and adopting 
a method of gesticulation suited to his rather 
awkward and ungraceful figure. He also proposed 
cases to himself, which he argued with as much 
care as if he had been addressing a jury. Curran 
began business with the qualification which Lord 
Eldon stated to be the first requisite for distinction, 
that is, "to be not worth a shilling." While 
working his way laboriously at the bar, still 
oppressed by the diffidence which had overcome 
him in his debating club, he was on one occasion 


provoked by the Judge (Robinson) into making a 
very severe retort. In the case under discussion, 
Curran observed " that he had never met the law 
as laid down by his lordship in any book in his 
library." "That may be, sir," said the judge, in 
a contemptuous tone, " but I suspect that your 
library is very small." His lordship was notoriously 
a furious political partisan, the author of several 
anonymous pamphlets characterised by unusual 
violence and dogmatism. Curran, roused by the 
allusion to his straitened circumstances, replied 
thus : " It is very true, my lord, that I am poor, 
and the circumstance has certainly curtailed my 
library; my books are not numerous, but they 
are select, and I hope they have been perused with 
proper dispositions. I have prepared myself for 
this high profession by the study of a few good 
works, rather than by the composition of a great 
many bad ones. I am not ashamed of my poverty ; 
but I should be ashamed of my wealth, could I 
have stooped to acquire it by servility and corrup- 
tion. If I rise not to rank, I shall at least be 
honest; and should I ever cease to be so, many 
an example shows me that an ill-gained elevation, 
by making me the more conspicuous, would only 
make me the more universally and the more 
notoriously contemptible." 

The extremest poverty has been no obstacle in 
the way of men devoted to the duty of self-culture. 
Professor Alexander Murray, the linguist, learnt 
to write by scribbling his letters on an old wool- 
card with the end of a burnt heather stem. The 
only book which his father, who was a poor shep- 
herd, possessed was a penny Shorter Catechism ; 
but that, being thought too valuable for common 


use, was carefully preserved in a cupboard for the 
Sunday catechizings. Professor Moor, when a 
young man, being too poor to purchase Newton's 
'Principia,' borrowed the book, and copied the 
whole of it with his own hand. Many poor 
students, while labouring daily for their living, 
have only been able to snatch an atom of know- 
ledge here and there at intervals, as birds do their 
food in winter time when the fields are covered 
with snow. They have struggled on, and faith and 
hope have come to them. A well-known author and 
publisher, William Chambers, of Edinburgh, 
speaking before an assemblage of young men in 
that city, thus briefly described to them his humble 
beginnings, for their encouragement : " I stand 
before you," he said, a self-educated man. My 
education was that which is supplied at the humble 
parish schools of Scotland ; and it was only when 
I went to Edinburgh, a poor boy, that I devoted 
my evenings, after the labours of the day, to the 
cultivation of that intellect which the Almighty 
has given me. From seven or eight in the morning 
till nine or ten at night was I at my business as 
a bookseller's apprentice, and it was only during 
hours after these, stolen from sleep, that I could 
devote myself to study. I did not read novels : 
my attention was devoted to physical science, and 
other useful matters. I also taught myself French. 
I look back to those times with great pleasure, and 
am almost sorry I have not to go through the same 
experience again ; for I reaped more pleasure when 
I had not a sixpence in my pocket, studying in a 
garret in Edinburgh, than I now find when sitting 
amidst all the elegances and comforts of a parlour." 
William Cobbett's account of how he learnt 


English Grammar is full of interest and instruction 
for all students labouring under difficulties. " I 
learned grammar," said he, " when I was a private 
soldier on the pay of sixpence a day. The edge 
of my berth, or that of my guard-bed, was my seat 
to study in ; my knapsack was my book-case ; a 
bit of board lying on my lap was my writing-table ; 
and the task did not demand anything like a year 
of my life. I had no money to purchase candle or 
oil; in winter time it was rarely that I could get 
any evening light but that of the fire, and only 
my turn even of that. And if I, under such circum- 
stances, and without parent or friend to advise or 
encourage me, accomplished this undertaking, what 
excuse can there be for any youth, however poor, 
however pressed with business, or however cir- 
cumstanced as to room or other conveniences? 
To buy a pen or a sheet of paper I was compelled 
to forego some portion of food, though in a state 
of half-starvation : I had no moment of time that 
I could call my own; and I had to read and 
to write amidst the talking, laughing, singing, 
whistling, and brawling of at least half a score of 
the most thoughtless of men, and that, too, in the 
hours of their freedom from all control. Think 
not lightly of the farthing that I had to give, now 
and then, for ink, pen, or paper! That farthing 
was, alas ! a great sum to me ! I was as tall as 
I am now ; I had great health and great exercise. 
The whole of the money, not expended for us at 
market, was twopence a week for each man. I 
remember, and well I may! that on one occasion 
I, after all necessary expenses, had, on a Friday, 
made shifts to have a halfpenny in reserve, which 
I had destined for the purchase of a red herring in 


the morning; but, when I pulled off my clothes 
at night, so hungry then as to be hardly able to 
endure life, I found that I had lost my halfpenny ! 
I buried my head under the miserable sheet and 
rug, and cried like a child! And again I say, if 
I, under circumstances like these, could encounter 
and overcome this task, is there, can there be, in 
the whole world, a youth to find an excuse for the 
non-performance ? " 

We have been informed of an equally striking 
instance of perseverance and application in learning 
on the part of a French political exile in London. 
His original occupation was that of a stonemason, 
at which he found employment for some time ; but 
work becoming slack, he lost his place, and poverty 
stared him in the face. In his dilemma he called 
upon a fellow exile, profitably engaged in teaching 
French, and consulted him what he ought to do 
to earn a living. The answer was, " Become a 
professor!" "A professor?" answered the mason 
" I, who am only a workman, speaking but a 
patois! Surely you are jesting?" "On the con- 
trary, I am quite serious," said the other, " and 
again I advise you become a professor ; place 
yourself under me, and I will undertake to teach 
you how to teach others." "No, no!" replied the 
mason, "it is impossible; I am too old to learn; 
I am too little of a scholar ; I cannot be a professor." 
He went away, and again he tried to obtain employ- 
ment at his trade. From London he went into the 
provinces, and travelled several hundred miles in 
vain ; he could not find a master. Returning to 
London, he went direct to his former adviser, and 
said, " I have tried everywhere for work, and failed ; 
I will now try to be a professor ! " He immediately 


placed himself under instruction ; and being a man 
of close application, of quick apprehension, and 
vigorous intelligence, he speedily mastered the 
elements of grammar, the rules of construction 
and composition, and (what he had still in a great 
measure to learn) the correct pronunciation of 
classical French. When his friend and instructor 
thought him sufficiently competent to undertake 
the teaching of others, an appointment, advertised 
as vacant, was applied for and obtained ; and 
behold our artisan at length become professor ! It 
so happened, that the seminary to which he was 
appointed was situated in a suburb of London 
where he had formerly worked as a stonemason ; 
and every morning the first thing which met his 
eyes on looking out of his dressing-room window 
was a stack of cottage chimneys which he had 
himself built ! He feared for a time lest he should 
be recognized in the village as the quondam 
workman, and thus bring discredit on his seminary, 
which was of high standing. But he need have 
been under no such apprehension, as he proved 
a most efficient teacher, and his pupils were on 
more than one occasion publicly complimented for 
their knowledge of French. Meanwhile, he secured 
the respect and friendship of all who knew him 
fellow professors as well as pupils ; and when 
the story of his struggles, his difficulties, and his 
past history became known to them, they admired 
him more than ever. 

Sir Samuel Romilly was not less indefatigable as 
a self-cultivator. The son of a jeweller, descended 
from a French refugee, he received little education 
in his early years, but overcame all his dis- 
advantages by unwearied application, and by 


efforts constantly directed towards the same end. 
" I determined," he says, in his autobiography, 
"when I was between fifteen and sixteen years 
of age, to apply myself seriously to learning 
Latin, of which I, at that time, knew little more 
than some of the most familiar rules of grammar. 
In the course of three or four years, during which 
I thus applied myself, I had read almost every 
prose writer of the age of pure Latinity, except 
those who have treated merely of technical subjects, 
such as Varro, Columella, and Celsus. I had gone 
three times through the whole of Livy, Sallust, 
and Tacitus. I had studied the most celebrated 
orations of Cicero, and translated a great deal of 
Homer. Terence, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Juvenal 
I had read over and over again." He also studied 
geography, natural history, and natural philosophy, 
and obtained a considerable acquaintance with 
general knowledge. At sixteen he was articled 
to a clerk in Chancery ; worked hard ; was admitted 
to the bar ; and his industry and perseverance 
ensured success. He became Solicitor-General 
under the Fox administration in 1806, and steadily 
worked his way to the highest celebrity in his 
profession. Yet he was always haunted by a 
painful and almost oppressive sense of his own 
disqualifications, and never ceased labouring to 
remedy them. His autobiography is a lesson of 
instructive facts, worth volumes of sentiment, and 
well deserves a careful perusal. 

Sir Walter Scott was accustomed to cite the 
case of his young friend John Leyden as one of 
the most remarkable illustrations of the power 
of perseverance which he had ever known. The 
son of a shepherd in one of the wildest valleys 


of Roxburghshire, he was almost entirely self- 
educated. Like many Scotch shepherds' sons 
like Hogg, who taught himself to write by copying 
the letters of a printed book as he lay watching 
his flock on the hillside like Cairns, who, from 
tending sheep on the Lammermoors, raised himself 
by dint of application and industry to the pro- 
fessor's chair which he now so worthily holds 
like Murray, Ferguson, and many more Leyden 
was early inspired by a thirst for knowledge. 
When a poor barefooted boy, he walked six or 
eight miles across the moors daily to learn reading 
at the little village schoolhouse of Kirkton ; and 
this was all the education he received, the rest he 
acquired for himself. He found his way to 
Edinburgh to attend the college there, setting the 
extremest penury at defiance. He was first dis- 
covered as a frequenter of a small bookseller's 
shop kept by Archibald Constable, afterwards so 
well known as a publisher. He would pass hour 
after hour perched on a ladder in mid-air, with 
some great folio in his hand, forgetful of the scanty 
meal of bread and water which awaited him at 
his miserable lodging. Access to books and lectures 
comprised all within the bounds of his wishes. 
Thus he toiled and battled at the gates of science 
until his unconquerable perseverance carried every- 
thing before it. Before he had attained his 
nineteenth year he had astonished all the professors 
in Edinburgh by his profound knowledge of Greek 
and Latin, and the general mass of information 
he had acquired. Having turned his views to 
India, ne sought employment in the civil service, 
out failed. He was, however, informed that a 
surgeon's assistant's commission was open to him. 


But he was no surgeon, and knew no more of the 
profession than a child. He could, however, learn. 
Then he was told that he must be ready to pass 
in six months ! Nothing daunted, he set to work, 
to acquire in six months what usually required 
three years. At the end of six months he took 
his degree with honour. Scott and a few friends 
helped to fit him out ; and he sailed for India, after 
publishing his beautiful poem, 'The Scenes of 
Infancy.' In India he promised to become one 
of the greatest of Oriental scholars, but was un- 
happily cut off by fever, caught by exposure, and 
died at an early age. 

The life of the late Dr. Lee, Professor of Hebrew 
at Cambridge, furnishes one of the most remarkable 
instances in modern times of the power of patient 
perseverance and resolute purpose in working out 
an honourable career in literature. He received 
his education at a charity school at Lognor, near 
Shrewsbury, but so little distinguished himself 
there, that his master pronounced him one of the 
dullest boys that ever passed through his hands. 
He was put apprentice to a carpenter, and worked 
at that trade until he arrived at manhood. To 
occupy his leisure hours he took to reading ; and, 
some of the books containing Latin quotations, he 
became desirous of ascertaining what they meant. 
He bought a Latin grammar, and proceeded to 
learn Latin. As Stone, the Duke of Argyle's 
gardener, said, long before, " Does one need to 
know anything more than the twenty-four letters 
in order to learn everything else that one wishes ?" 
Lee rose early and sat up late, and he succeeded 
in mastering the Latin before his apprenticeship 
was out. Whilst working one day in some place 


of worship, a copy of a Greek Testament fell in 
his way, and he was immediately filled with the 
desire to learn that language. He accordingly sold 
some of his Latin books, and purchased a Greek 
grammar and lexicon. Taking pleasure in learning, 
he soon mastered the language. Then he sold 
his Greek books, and bought Hebrew ones, and 
learnt that language, unassisted by any instructor, 
without any hope of fame or reward, but simply 
following the bent of his genius. He next proceeded 
to learn the Chaldee, Syriac, and Samaritan dialects. 
But his studies began to tell upon his health, and 
brought on disease in his eyes through his long 
night watchings with his books. Having laid them 
aside for a time and recovered his health, he went 
on with his daily work. His character as a trades- 
man being excellent, his business improved, and 
his means enabled him to marry, which he did 
when twenty-eight years old. He determined now 
to devote himself to the maintenance of his family, 
and to renounce the luxury of literature ; accordingly 
he sold all his books. He might have continued 
a working carpenter all his life, had not the chest 
of tools upon which he depended for subsistence 
been destroyed by fire, and destitution stared him 
in the face. He was too poor to buy new tools, 
so he bethought him of teaching children their 
letters, a profession requiring the least possible 
capital. But though he had mastered many lan- 
guages, he was so defective in the common 
branches of knowledge, that at first he could not 
teach them. Resolute of purpose, however, he 
assiduously set to work, and taught himself arith- 
metic and writing to such a degree as to be able 
to impart the knowledge of these branches to 


little children. His unaffected, simple, and beauti- 
ful character gradually attracted friends, and the 
acquirements of the "learned carpenter" became 
bruited abroad. Dr. Scott, a neighbouring clergy- 
man, obtained for him the appointment of master 
of a charity school in Shrewsbury, and introduced 
him to a distinguished Oriental scholar. These 
friends supplied him with books, and Lee succes- 
sively mastered Arabic, Persic, and Hindostanee. 
He continued to pursue his studies while on duty 
as a private in the local militia of the county; 
gradually acquiring greater proficiency in lan- 
guages. At length his kind patron, Dr. Scott, 
enabled Lee to enter Queen's College, Cambridge; 
and after a course of study, in which he distin- 
guished himself by his mathematical acquirements, 
a vacancy occurring in the professorship of Arabic 
and Hebrew, he was worthily elected to fill the 
honourable office. Besides ably performing his 
duties as a professor, he voluntarily gave much 
of his time to the instruction of missionaries going 
forth to preach the Gospel to eastern tribes in 
their own tongue. He also made translations of 
the Bible into several Asiatic dialects ; and having 
mastered the New Zealand language, he arranged 
a grammar and vocabulary for two New Zealand 
chiefs who were then in England, which books 
are now in daily use in the New Zealand 
schools. Such, in brief, is the remarkable history 
of Dr. Samuel Lee ; and it is but the counterpart 
of numerous similarly instructive examples of the 
power of perseverance in self-culture, as displayed 
in the lives of many of the most distinguished 
of our literary and scientific men. 

There are many other illustrious names which 


might be cited to prove the truth of the common 
saying that "it is never too late to learn." Even 
at advanced years men can do much, if they will 
determine on making a beginning. Sir Henry 
Spelman did not begin the study of science until 
he was between fifty and sixty years of age. 
Franklin was fifty before he fully entered upon 
the study of natural philosophy. Dryden and 
Scott were not known as authors until each was 
in his fortieth year. Boccaccio was thirty-five 
when he commenced his literary career, and Alfieri 
was forty-six when he began the study of Greek. 
Dr. Arnold learnt German at an advanced age, 
for the purpose of reading Niebuhr in the original ; 
and in like manner James Watt, when about forty, 
while working at his trade of an instrument maker 
in Glasgow, learnt French, German, and Italian, 
to enable himself to peruse the valuable works 
on mechanical philosophy which existed in those 
languages. Thomas Scott was fifty-six before 
he began to learn Hebrew. Robert Hall was once 
found lying upon the floor, racked by pain, learning 
Italian in his old age, to enable him to judge of 
the parallel drawn by Macaulay between Milton 
and Dante. Handel was forty-eight before he 
published any of his great works. Indeed, hundreds 
of instances might be given of men who struck 
out an entirely new path, and successfully entered 
on new studies, at a comparatively advanced time 
of life. None but the frivolous or the indolent 
will say, " I am too old to learn." * 

And here we would repeat what we have said 
before, that it is not men of genius who move 

* See the admirable and well-known book, 'The Pursuit of 
Knowledge under Difficulties.' 


the world and take the lead in it, so much as men 
of steadfastness, purpose, and indefatigable in- 
dustry. Notwithstanding the many undeniable 
instances of the precocity of men of genius, it is 
nevertheless true that early cleverness gives no 
indication of the height to which the grown man 
will reach. Precocity is sometimes a symptom 
of disease rather than of intellectual vigour. What 
becomes of all the " remarkably clever children " ? 
Where are the duxes and prize boys ? Trace them 
through life, and it will frequently be found that 
the dull boys, who were beaten at school, have 
shot ahead of them. The clever boys are rewarded, 
but the prizes which they gain by their greater 
quickness and facility do not always prove of use 
to them. What ought rather to be rewarded is 
the endeavour, the struggle, and the obedience ; 
for it is the youth who does his best, though 
endowed with an inferiority of natural powers, that 
ought above all others to be encouraged. 

An interesting chapter might be written on the 
subject of illustrious dunces dull boys, but brilliant 
men. We have room, however, for only a few 
instances. Pietro di Cortona, the painter, was 
thought so stupid that he was nicknamed "Ass's 
Head " when a boy ; and Tomaso Guidi was gene- 
rally known as " Heavy Tom " (Massaccio Toma- 
saccio), though by diligence he afterwards raised 
himself to the highest eminence. Newton, when 
at school, stood at the bottom of the lowest form 
but one. The boy above Newton having kicked 
him, the dunce showed his pluck by challenging 
him to fight, and beat him. Then he set to work 
with a will, and determined also to vanquish his 
antagonist as a scholar, which he did, rising to 



the top of his class. Many of our greatest divines 
have been anything but precocious. Isaac Barrow, 
when a boy at the Charterhouse School, was 
notorious chiefly for his strong temper, pugnacious 
habits, and proverbial idleness as a scholar; and 
he caused such grief to his parents that his father 
used to say that, if it pleased God to take from 
him any of his children, he hoped it might be 
Isaac, the least promising of them all. Adam 
Clarke, when a boy, was proclaimed by his father 
to be "a grievous dunce"; though he could roll 
large stones about. Dean Swift was " plucked " 
at Dublin University, and only obtained his re- 
commendation to Oxford "speciali gratia." The 
well-known Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Cook * were 
boys together at the parish school of St. Andrews ; 
and they were found so stupid and mischievous, 
that the master, irritated beyond measure, dismissed 
them both as incorrigible dunces. 

The brilliant Sheridan showed so little capacity 
as a boy, that he was presented to a tutor by 
his mother with the complimentary accompaniment 
that he was an incorrigible dunce. Walter Scott 
was all but a dunce when a boy, always much 
readier for a " bicker " than apt at his lessons. At 
the Edinburgh University, Professor Dalzell pro- 
nounced upon him the sentence that " Dunce he 
was, and dunce he would remain." Chatterton was 
returned on his mother's hands as " a fool, of whom 
nothing could be made." Burns was a dull boy, 
good only at athletic exercises. Goldsmith spoke 
of himself as a plant that flowered late. Alfieri 
left college no wiser than he entered it, and did 
not begin the studies by which he distinguished 

* Late Professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews. 


himself until he had run half over Europe. Robert 
Clive was a dunce, if not a reprobate, when a youth ; 
but always full of energy, even in badness. His 
family, glad to get rid of him, shipped him off to 
Madras ; and he lived to lay the foundations of the 
British power in India. Napoleon and Wellington 
were both dull boys, not distinguishing themselves 
in any way at school.* Of the former the Duchess 
d'Abrantes says, "he had good health, but was 
in other respects like other boys." 

Ulysses Grant, the Commander-in-Chief of the 
United States, was called " Useless Grant " by his 
mother he was so dull and unhandy when a boy ; 
and Stonewall Jackson, Lee's greatest lieutenant, 
was, in his youth, chiefly noted for his slowness. 
While a pupil at West Point Military Academy 
he was, however, equally remarkable for his in- 
defatigable application and perseverance. When 
a task was set him, he never left it until he had 
mastered it ; nor did he ever feign to possess know- 
ledge which he had not entirely acquired. " Again 
and again," wrote one who knew him, "when called 
upon to answer questions in the recitation of the 
day, he would reply, ' I have not yet looked at it ; I 
have been engaged in mastering the recitation of 
yesterday or the day before.' The result was that 
he graduated seventeenth in a class of seventy. 

* A writer in the ' Edinburgh Review ' (July, 1859) observes that 
"the Duke's talents seem never to have developed themselves 
until some active and practical field for their display was placed 
immediately before him. He was long described by his Spartan 
mother, who thought him a dunce, as only ' food for powder.' He 
gained no sort of distinction, either at Eton or at the French 
Military College of Angers." It is not improbable that a com- 
petitive examination, at this day, might have excluded him from 
the army. 


There was probably in the whole class not a boy 
to whom Jackson at the outset was not inferior 
in knowledge and attainments; but at the end of 
the race he had only sixteen before him, and had 
outstripped no fewer than fifty-three. It used to 
be said of him by his contemporaries, that, if the 
course had been for ten years instead of four, Jack- 
son would have graduated at the head of his 
class." * 

John Howard, the philanthropist, was another 
illustrious dunce, learning next to nothing during 
the seven years that he was at school. Stephenson, 
as a youth, was distinguished chiefly for his skill 
at putting and wrestling, and attention to his 
work. The brilliant Sir Humphry Davy was no 
cleverer than other boys : his teacher, Dr. Cardew, 
once said of him, " While he was with me I could 
not discern the faculties by which he was so much 
distinguished." Indeed, Davy himself in after life 
considered it fortunate that he had been left to 
" enjoy so much idleness " at school. Watt was 
a dull scholar, notwithstanding the stories told 
about his precocity; but he was, what was better, 
patient and perseverant, and it was by such 
qualities, and by his carefully cultivated inventive- 
ness, that he was enabled to perfect his steam- 

What Dr. Arnold said of boys is equally true 
of men that the difference between one boy and 
another consists not so much in talent as in energy. 
Given perseverance and energy soon becomes 
habitual. Provided the dunce has persistency and 
application he will inevitably head the cleverer 
fellow without those qualities. Slow but sure wins 
* Correspondent of 4 The Times,' nth June, 1863. 


the race. It is perseverance that explains how the 
position of boys at school is so often reversed in 
real life ; and it is curious to note how some who 
were then so clever have since become so common- 
place; whilst others, dull boys, of whom nothing 
was expected, slow in their faculties but sure in 
their pace, have assumed the position of leaders 
of men. The author of this book, when a boy, 
stood in the same class with one of the greatest 
of dunces. One teacher after another had tried his 
skill upon him and failed. Corporal punishment, 
the fool's cap, coaxing, and earnest entreaty proved 
alike fruitless. Sometimes the experiment was 
tried of putting him at the top of his class, and 
it was curious to note the rapidity with which he 
gravitated to the inevitable bottom. The youth 
was given up by his teachers as an incorrigible 
dunce one of them pronouncing him to be a " stu- 
pendous booby." Yet, slow though he was, this 
dunce had a sort of dull energy of purpose in him, 
which grew with his muscles and his manhood; 
and, strange to say, when he at length came to 
take part in the practical business of life, he was 
found heading most of his school companions, and 
eventually left the greater number of them far be- 
hind. The last time the author heard of him, he 
was chief magistrate of his native town. 

The tortoise in the right road will beat a racer 
in the wrong. It matters not though a youth be 
slow, if he be but diligent. Quickness of parts 
may even prove a defect, inasmuch as the boy who 
learns readily will often forget as readily ; and 
also because he finds no need of cultivating that 
quality of application and perseverance which the 
slower youth is compelled to exercise, and which 


proves so valuable an element in the formation of 
every character. Davy said, "What I am I have 
made myself" ; and the same holds true universally. 
To conclude : the best culture is not obtained 
from teachers when at school or college, so much 
as by our own diligent self-education when we have 
become men. Hence parents need not be in too 
great haste to see their children's talents forced 
into bloom. Let them watch and wait patiently, 
letting good example and quiet training do their 
work, and leave the rest to Providence. Let them 
see to it that the youth is provided, by free 
exercise of his bodily powers, with a full stock of 
physical health ; set him fairly on the road of self- 
culture; carefully train his habits of application 
and perseverance ; and as he grows older, if the 
right stuff be in him, he will be enabled vigorously 
and effectively to cultivate himself. 



" Ever their phantoms rise before us, 

Our loftier brothers, but one in blood ; 
By bed and table they lord it o'er us, 

With looks of beauty and words of good." -John Sterling, 

" Children may be strangled, but Deeds never ; they have an 
indestructible life, both in and out of our consciousness." George Eliot. 

"There is no action of man in this life, which is not the beginning 
of so long a chain of consequences, as that no human providence 
is high enough to give us a prospect to the end." Thomas of 

EXAMPLE is one of the most potent of instructors, 
though it teaches without a tongue. It is 
the practical school of mankind, working by 
action, which is always more forcible than words. 
Precept may point to us the way, but it is silent 
continuous example, conveyed to us by habits, and 
living with us in fact, that carries us along. Good 
advice has its weight : but without the accompani- 
ment of a good example it is of comparatively small 
influence ; and it will be found that the common 
saying of " Do as I say, not as I do," is usually 
reversed in the actual experience of life. 

All persons are more or less apt to learn through 
the eye rather than the ear ; and, whatever is seen in 
fact, makes a far deeper impression than anything 



that is merely read or heard. This is especially 
the case in early youth, when the eye is the chief 
inlet of knowledge. Whatever children see they 
unconsciously imitate. They insensibly come to 
resemble those who are about them as insects 
take the colour of the leaves they feed on. Hence 
the vast importance of domestic training. For 
whatever may be the efficiency of schools, the 
examples set in our Homes must always be of 
vastly greater influence in forming the characters 
of our future men and women. The Home is the 
crystal of society the nucleus of national character ; 
and from that source, be it pure or tainted, issue 
the habits, principles, and maxims which govern 
public as well as private life. The nation comes 
from the nursery. Public opinion itself is for the 
most part the outgrowth of the home ; and the 
best philanthropy comes from the fireside. "To 
love the little platoon we belong to in society," says 
Burke, " is the gem of all public affections." From 
this little central spot the human sympathies may 
extend in an ever widening circle, until the world 
is embraced ; for, though true philanthropy, like 
charity, begins at home, assuredly it does not end 

Example in conduct, therefore, even in appar- 
ently trivial matters, is of no light moment, inas- 
much as it is constantly becoming inwoven with 
the lives of others, and contributing to form their 
natures for better or for worse. The characters 
of parents are thus constantly repeated in their 
children ; and the acts of affection, discipline, in- 
dustry, and self-control, which they daily exemplify, 
live and act when all else which may have been 
learned through the ear has long been forgotten. 


Hence a wise man was accustomed to speak of 
his children as his " future state." Even the mute 
action and unconscious look of a parent may give 
a stamp to the character which is never effaced ; 
and who can tell how much evil act has been stayed 
by the thought of some good parents, whose 
memory their children may not sully by the com- 
mission of an unworthy deed, or the indulgence 
of an impure thought ? The veriest trifles thus 
become of importance in influencing the characters 
of men. " A kiss from my mother," said West, 
" made me a painter." It is on the direction of 
such seeming trifles when children that the future 
happiness and success of men mainly depend. 
Fowell Buxton, when occupying an eminent and 
influential station in life, wrote to his mother, " I 
constantly feel, especially in action and exertion 
for others, the effects of principles early implanted 
by you in my mind." Buxton was also accustomed 
to remember with gratitude the obligations which 
he owed to an illiterate man, a gamekeeper, named 
Abraham Plastow, with whom he played, and rode, 
and sported a man who could neither read nor 
write, but was full of natural good sense and 
mother-wit " What made him particularly valu- 
able," says Buxton, " were his principles of integrity 
and honour. He never said or did a thing in the 
absence of my mother of which she would have 
disapproved. He always held up the highest 
standard of integrity, and filled our youthful minds 
with sentiments as pure and as generous as could 
be found in the writings of Seneca or Cicero. Such 
was my first instructor, and, I must add, my best." 

Lord Langdale, looking back upon the admirable 
example set him by his mother, declared, " If the 


whole world were put into one scale, and my 
mother into the other, the world would kick the 
beam." Mrs. Schimmel Penninck, in her old age, 
was accustomed to call to mind the personal in- 
fluence exercised by her mother upon the society 
amidst which she moved. When she entered a 
room it had the effect of immediately raising the 
tone of the conversation, and as if purifying the 
moral atmosphere all seeming to breathe more 
freely, and stand more erectly. " In her presence," 
says the daughter, " I became for the time trans- 
formed into another person." So much does the 
moral health depend upon the moral atmosphere 
that is breathed, and so great is the influence daily 
exercised by parents over their children by living 
a life before their eyes, that perhaps the best 
system of parental instruction might be summed up 
in these two words, " Improve thyself." 

There is something solemn and awful in the 
thought that there is not an act done or a word 
uttered by a human being but carries with it a 
train of consequences, the end of which we may 
never trace. Not one but, to a certain extent, gives 
a colour to our life, and insensibly influences the 
lives of those about us. The good deed or word 
will live, even though we may not see it fructify, but 
so will the bad ; and no person is so insignificant 
as to be sure that his example will not do good 
on the one hand, or evil on the other. The spirits 
of men do not die : they still live and walk abroad 
among us. It was a fine and a true thought uttered 
by Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons on the 
death of Richard Cobden, that "he was one of 
those men who, though not present, were still 
members of that House, who were independent of 


dissolutions, of the caprices of constituencies, and 
even of the course of time." 

There is, indeed, an essence of immortality in 
the life of man, even in this world. No individual 
in the universe stands alone; he is a component 
part of a system of mutual dependencies ; and by 
his several acts he either increases or diminishes 
the sum of human good now and for ever. As the 
present is rooted in the past, and the lives and 
examples of our forefathers still to a great extent 
influence us, so are we by our daily acts contri- 
buting to form the condition and character of the 
future. Man is a fruit formed and ripened by the 
culture of all the foregoing centuries ; and the 
living generation continues the magnetic current 
of action and example destined to bind the remotest 
past with the most distant future. No man's acts 
die utterly ; and though his body may resolve into 
dust and air, his good or his bad deeds will still 
be bringing forth fruit after their kind, and in- 
fluencing future generations for all time to come. 
It is in this momentous and solemn fact that 
the great peril and responsibility of human existence 

Mr. Babbage has so powerfully expressed this 
idea in a noble passage in one of his writings that 
we here venture to quote his words : " Every atom," 
he says, "impressed with good or ill, retains at 
once the motions which philosophers and sages 
have imparted to it, mixed and combined in ten 
thousand ways with all that is worthless and base ; 
the air itself is one vast library, on whose pages 
are written for ever all that man has ever said or 
whispered. There, in their immutable but unerring 
characters, mixed with the earliest as well as the 


latest sighs of mortality, stand for ever recorded 
vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled; perpetuat- 
ing, in the united movements of each particle, 
the testimony of man's changeful will. But, if 
the air we breathe is the never-failing historian of 
the sentiments we have uttered, earth, air, and 
ocean are, in like manner, the eternal witnesses of 
the acts we have done ; the same principle of the 
equality of action and reaction applies to them. 
No motion impressed by natural causes, or by 
human agency, is ever obliterated. ... If the 
Almighty stamped on the brow of the first murderer 
the indelible and visible mark of his guilt, He 
has also established laws by which every succeed- 
ing criminal is not less irrevocably chained to 
the testimony of his crime ; for every atom of his 
mortal frame, through whatever changes its severed 
particles may migrate, will still retain adhering 
to it, through every combination, some movement 
derived from that very muscular effort by which 
the crime itself was perpetrated." 

Thus, every act we do or word we utter, as 
well as every act we witness or word we hear, 
carries with it an influence which extends over, 
and gives a colour, not only to the whole of our 
future life, but makes itself felt upon the whole 
frame of society. We may not, and indeed cannot, 
possibly trace the influence working itself into 
action in its various ramifications amongst our 
children, our friends, or associates ; yet there it 
is assuredly, working on for ever. And herein 
lies the great significance of setting forth a good 
example, a silent teaching which even the poorest 
and least significant person can practise in his 
daily life. There is no one so humble but that 


he owes to others this simple but priceless instruc- 
tion. Even the meanest condition may thus be 
made useful ; for the light set in a low place shines 
as faithfully as that set upon a hill. Everywhere, 
and under almost all circumstances, however 
externally adverse in moorland shielings, in 
cottage hamlets, in the close alleys of great towns 
the true man may grow. He who tills a space 
of earth scarce bigger than is needed for his grave, 
may work as faithfully, and to as good purpose, as 
the heir to thousands. The commonest workshop 
may thus be a school of industry, science, and good 
morals, on the one hand ; or of idleness, folly, and 
depravity, on the other. It all depends on the 
individual men, and the use they make of the 
opportunities for good which offer themselves. 

A life well spent, a character uprightly sustained, 
is no slight legacy to leave to one's children, and 
to the world ; for it is the most eloquent lesson of 
virtue and the severest reproof of vice, while it 
continues an enduring source of the best kind of 
riches. Well for those who can say, as Pope did, 
in rejoinder to the sarcasm of Lord Hervey, "I 
think it enough that my parents, such as they were, 
never cost me a blush, and that their son, such as 
he is, never cost them a tear." 

It is not enough to tell others what they are 
to do, but to exhibit the actual example of doing. 
What Mrs. Chisholm described to Mrs. Stowe as 
the secret of her success, applies to all life. " I 
found," she said, " that if we want anything done, 
we must go to work and do : it is of no use merely 
to talk none whatever." It is poor eloquence 
that only shows how a person can talk. Had Mrs. 
Chisholm rested satisfied with lecturing, her project, 

430 DR. GUTHRIE [CHAP, xil 

she was persuaded, would never have got beyond 
the region of talk ; but when people saw what she 
was doing and had actually accomplished, they fell 
in with her views and came forward to help her. 
Hence the most beneficent worker is not he who 
says the most eloquent things, or even who thinks 
the most loftily, but he who does the most eloquent 

True-hearted persons, even in the humblest 
station in life, who are energetic doers, may thus 
give an impulse to good works out of all proportion, 
apparently, to their actual station in society. 
Thomas Wright might have talked about the re- 
clamation of criminals, and John Pounds about the 
necessity for Ragged Schools, and yet done 
nothing ; instead of which they simply set to work 
without any other idea in their minds than that 
of doing, not talking. And how the example of 
even the poorest man may tell upon society, hear 
what Dr. Guthrie, the apostle of the Ragged School 
movement, says of the influence which the example 
of John Pounds, the humble Portsmouth cobbler, 
exercised upon his own working career : 

" The interest I have been led to take in this 
cause is an example of how, in Providence, a man's 
destiny his course of life, like that of a river 
may be determined and affected by very trivial 
circumstances. It is rather curious at least it is 
interesting to me to remember that it was by 
a picture I was first led to take an interest in 
ragged schools by a picture in an old, obscure, 
decaying burgh that stands on the shores of the 
Frith of Forth, the birthplace of Thomas Chalmers. 
I went to see this place many years ago ; and, 
going into an inn for refreshment, I found the 


room covered with pictures of shepherdesses with 
their crooks, and sailors in holiday attire, not 
particularly interesting. But above the chimney- 
piece there was a large print, more respectable 
than its neighbours, which represented a cobbler's 
room. The cobbler was there himself, spectacles 
on nose, an old shoe between his knees the 
massive forehead and firm mouth indicating great 
determination of character, and, beneath his bushy 
eyebrows, benevolence gleamed out on a number 
of poor ragged boys and girls who stood at their 
lessons round the busy cobbler. My curiosity was 
awakened ; and in the inscription I read how this 
man, John Pounds, a cobbler in Portsmouth, taking 
pity on the multitude of poor ragged children left 
by ministers and magistrates, and ladies and gentle- 
men, to go to ruin on the streets how, like a good 
shepherd, he gathered in these wretched outcasts 
how he had trained them to God and to the world 
and how, while earning his daily bread by the 
sweat of his brow, he had rescued from misery 
and saved to society not less than five hundred of 
these children. I felt ashamed of myself. I felt 
reproved for the little I had done. My feelings 
were touched. I was astonished at this man's 
achievements ; and I well remember, in the 
enthusiasm of the moment, saying to my companion 
(and I have seen in my cooler and calmer moments 
no reason for unsaying the saying) ' That man is 
an honour to humanity, and deserves the tallest 
monument ever raised within the shores of 
Britain.' I took up that man's history, and I found 
it animated by the spirit of Him who ' had com- 
passion on the multitude.' John Pounds was a 
clever man besides ; and, like Paul, if he could not 


win a poor boy any other way, he won him by art. 
He would be seen chasing a ragged boy along the 
quays, and compelling him to come to school, 
not by the power of a policeman, but by the 
power of a hot potato. He knew the love an 
Irishman had for a potato ; and John Pounds 
might be seen running holding under the boy's 
nose a potato, like an Irishman, very hot, and with 
a coat as ragged as himself. When the day comes 
when honour will be done to whom honour is due, 
I can fancy the crowd of those whose fame poets 
have sung, and to whose memory monuments have 
been raised, dividing like the wave, and, passing 
the great, and the noble, and the mighty of the 
land, this poor, obscure old man stepping forward 
and receiving the especial notice of Him who said 
' Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these, 
ye did it also to Me.' " 

The education of character is very much a 
question of models ; we mould ourselves so un- 
consciously after the characters, manners, habits, 
and opinions of those who are about us. Good 
rules may do much, but good models far more ; for 
in the latter we have instruction in action wisdom 
at work. Good admonition and bad example only 
build with one hand to pull down with the other. 
Hence the vast importance of exercising great care 
in the selection of companions, especially in youth. 
There is a magnetic affinity in young persons 
which insensibly tends to assimilate them to each 
other's likeness. Mr. Edgeworth was so strongly 
convinced that from sympathy they involuntarily 
imitated or caught the tone of the company they 
frequented, that he held it to be of the most 
essential importance that they should be taught to 


select the very best models. " No company, or 
good company," was his motto. Lord Collingwood, 
writing to a young friend, said, " Hold it as a 
maxim that you had better be alone than in mean 
company. Let your companions be such as your- 
self, or superior ; for the worth of a man will 
always be ruled by that of his company." It was 
a remark of the famous Dr. Sydenham that every- 
body some time or other would be the better or 
the worse for having but spoken to a good or a 
bad man. As Sir Peter Lely made it a rule never 
to look at a bad picture if he could help it, believing 
that whenever he did so his pencil caught a taint 
from it, so, whoever chooses to gaze often upon a 
debased specimen of humanity and to frequent his 
society, cannot help gradually assimilating himself 
to that sort of model. 

It is therefore advisable for young men to seek 
the fellowship of the good, and always to aim at a 
higher standard than themselves. Francis Homer, 
speaking of the advantages to himself of direct 
personal intercourse with high-minded, intelligent 
men, said, " I cannot hesitate to decide that I have 
derived more intellectual improvement from them 
than from all the books I have turned over." Lord 
Shelburne (afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne), 
when a young man, paid a visit to the venerable 
Malesherbes, and was so much impressed by it, 
that he said " I have travelled much, but I have 
never been so influenced by personal contact with 
any man ; and if I ever accomplish any good in 
the course of my life, I am certain that the recol- 
lection of M. de Malesherbes will animate my 
soul." So Fowell Buxton was always ready to 
acknowledge the powerful influence exercised upon 



the formation of his character in early life by the 
example of the Gurney family: "It has given a 
colour to my life," he used to say. Speaking of 
his success at the Dublin University, he confessed, 
" I can ascribe it to nothing but my Earlham 
visits." It was from the Gurneys he " caught the 
infection " of self-improvement. 

Contact with the good never fails to impart 
good, and we carry away with us some of the 
blessing, as travellers' garments retain the odour 
of the flowers and shrubs through which they 
have passed. Those who knew the late John 
Sterling intimately have spoken of the beneficial 
influence which he exercised on all with whom 
he came into personal contact. Many owed to 
him their first awakening to a higher being ; from 
him they learnt what they were, and what they 
ought to be. Mr. Trench says of him : " It was 
impossible to come in contact with his noble nature 
without feeling one's self in some measure ennobled 
and lifted up, as I ever felt when I left him, into 
a higher region of objects and aims than that in 
which one is tempted habitually to dwell." It is 
thus that the noble character always acts ; we 
become insensibly elevated by him, and cannot help 
feeling as he does and acquiring the habit of looking 
at things in the same light. Such is the magical 
action and reaction of minds upon each other. 

Artists, also, feel themselves elevated by con- 
tact with artists greater than themselves. Thus 
Haydn's genius was first fired by Handel. Hearing 
him play, Haydn's ardour for musical composition 
was at once excited, and but for this circumstance, 
he himself believed that he would never have 
written the ' Creation.' Speaking of Handel, he 


said, "When he chooses, he strikes like the thunder- 
bolt " ; and at another time, " There is not a note 
of him but draws blood." Scarlatti was another 
of Handel's ardent admirers, following him all over 
Italy ; afterwards, when speaking of the great 
master, he would cross himself in token of admira- 
tion. True artists never fail generously to recog- 
nize each other's greatness. Thus Beethoven's 
admiration for Cherubini was regal : and he 
ardently hailed the genius of Schubert : " Truly," 
said he, "in Schubert dwells a divine fire." When 
Northcote was a mere youth he had such an 
admiration for Reynolds that, when the great 
painter was once attending a public meeting down 
in Devonshire, the boy pushed through the crowd, 
and got so near Reynolds as to touch the skirt 
of his coat, " which I did," says Northcote, " with 
great satisfaction to my mind," a true touch of 
youthful enthusiasm in its admiration of genius. 

The example of the brave is an inspiration to 
the timid, their presence thrilling through every 
fibre. Hence the miracles of valour so often per- 
formed by ordinary men under the leadership of 
the heroic. The very recollection of the deeds 
of the valiant stirs men's blood like the sound of 
a trumpet. Ziska bequeathed his skin to be used 
as a drum to inspire the valour of the Bohemians. 
When Scanderbeg, prince of Epirus, was dead, the 
Turks wished to possess his bones, that each might 
wear a piece next to his heart, hoping thus to 
secure some portion of the courage he had dis- 
played while living, and which they had so often 
experienced in battle. When the gallant Douglas, 
bearing the heart of Bruce to the Holy Land, saw 
one of his knights surrounded and sorely pressed 


by the Saracens, he took from his neck the silver 
case containing the hero's bequest, and throwing 
it amidst the thickest press of his foes, cried, " Pass 
first in fight, as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas 
will follow thee, or die" ; and so saying, he rushed for- 
ward to the place where it fell, and was there slain. 
The chief use of biography consists in the noble 
models of character in which it abounds. Our great 
forefathers still live among us in the records of 
their lives, as well as in the acts they have done, 
which live also : still sit by us at table, and hold 
us by the hand ; furnishing examples for our bene- 
fit, which we may still study, admire and imitate. 
Indeed, whoever has left behind him the record 
of a noble life, has bequeathed to posterity an 
enduring source of good, for it serves as a model 
for others to form themselves by in all time to 
come ; still breathing fresh life into men, helping 
them to reproduce his life anew, and to illustrate 
his character in other forms. Hence a book con- 
taining the life of a true man is full of precious 
seed. It is a still living voice ; it is an intellect. 
To use Milton's words, " It is the precious life-blood 
of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up 
on purpose to a life beyond life." Such a book 
never ceases to exercise an elevating and ennobling 
influence. But, above all, there is the Book con- 
taining the very highest Example set before us 
to shape our lives by in this world the most 
suitable for all the necessities of our mind and 
heart an example which we can only follow afar 
off and feel after, 

" Like plants or vines which never saw the sun, 
But dream of him and guess where he may be, 
And do their best to climb and get to him." 


Again, no young man can rise from the perusal 
of such lives as those of Buxton and Arnold, with- 
out feeling his mind and heart made better, and 
his best resolves invigorated. Such biographies 
increase a man's self-reliance by demonstrating 
what men can be, and what they can do ; fortifying 
his hopes and elevating his aims in life. Some- 
times a young man discovers himself in a biography, 
as Correggio felt within him the risings of genius 
on contemplating the works of Michael Angelo : 
"And I, too, am a painter," he exclaimed. Sir 
Samuel Romilly, in his autobiography, confessed 
himself to have been powerfully influenced by the 
life of the great and noble-minded French Chan- 
cellor Daguesseau : " The works of Thomas," says 
he, "had fallen into my hands, and I had read 
with admiration his ' Eloge of Daguesseau ' ; and 
the career of honour which he represented that 
illustrious magistrate to have run, excited to a 
great degree my ardour and ambition, and opened 
to my imagination new paths of glory." 

Franklin was accustomed to attribute his useful- 
ness and eminence to his having early read Cotton 
Mather's ' Essays to do Good ' a book which grew 
out of Mather's own life. And see how good 
example draws other men after it, and propagates 
itself through future generations in all lands. For 
Samuel Drew avers that he framed his own life, 
and especially his business habits, after the model 
left on record by Benjamin Franklin. Thus it 
is impossible to say where a good example may 
not reach, or where it will end, if indeed it have 
an end. Hence the advantage, in literature as 
in life, of keeping the best society, reading the 
best books, and wisely admiring and imitating 1 


the best things we find in them. " In literature," 
said Lord Dudley, " I am fond of confining myself 
to the best company, which consists chiefly of 
my old acquaintance, with whom I am desirous 
of becoming more intimate ; and I suspect that 
nine times out of ten it is more profitable, if not 
more agreeable, to read an old book over again 
than to read a new one for the first time." 

Sometimes a book containing a noble exemplar 
of life, taken up at random, merely with the object 
of reading it as a pastime, has been known to 
call forth energies whose existence had not before 
been suspected. Alfieri was first drawn with 
passion to literature by reading ' Plutarch's Lives.' 
Loyola, when a soldier serving at the siege of 
Pampeluna, and laid up by a dangerous wound in 
his leg, asked for a book to divert his thoughts : 
the 'Lives of the Saints' was brought to him, 
and its perusal so inflamed his mind, that he deter- 
mined thenceforth to devote himself to the founding 
of a religious order. Luther, in like manner, was 
inspired to undertake the great labours of his life 
by a perusal of the ' Life and Writings of John 
Huss.' Dr. Wolff was stimulated to enter upon 
his missionary career by reading the 4 Life of 
Francis Xavier'; and the book fired his youthful 
bosom with a passion the most sincere and ardent 
to devote himself to the enterprise of his life. 
William Carey, also, got the first idea of entering 
upon his sublime labours as a missionary from 
a perusal of the Voyages of Captain Cook. 

Francis Horner was accustomed to note in his 
diary and letters the books by which he was most 
improved and influenced. Amongst these were 
Condorcet's ' Eloge of Haller/ Sir Joshua Reynolds' 


' Discourses/ the writings of Bacon, and ' Burnet's 
Account of Sir Matthew Hale.' The perusal of 
the last-mentioned book the portrait of a prodigy 
of labour Horner says, filled him with enthusiasm. 
Of Condorcet's ' Eloge of Haller,' he said : " I never 
rise from the account of such men without a sort 
of thrilling palpitation about me, which I know 
not whether I should call admiration, ambition, 
or despair." And speaking of the ' Discourses ' of 
Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said : " Next to the 
writings of Bacon, there is no book which has 
more powerfully impelled me to self-culture. He 
is one of the first men of genius who has con- 
descended to inform the world of the steps by 
which greatness is attained. The confidence with 
which he asserts the omnipotence of human labour 
has the effect of familiarizing his reader with the 
idea that genius is an acquisition rather than a 
gift ; whilst with all there is blended so naturally 
and eloquently the most elevated and passionate 
admiration of excellence, that upon the whole there 
is no book of a more inflammatory effect." It is 
remarkable that Reynolds himself attributed his 
first passionate impulse towards the study of art 
to reading Richardson's account of a great painter ; 
and Haydon was in like manner afterwards in- 
flamed to follow the same pursuit by reading of 
the career of Reynolds. Thus the brave and 
aspiring life of one man lights a flame in the minds 
of others of like faculties and impulse ; and where 
there is equally vigorous effort, like distinction and 
success will almost surely follow. Thus the chain of 
example is carried down through time in an endless 
succession of links admiration exciting imitation, 
and perpetuating the true aristocracy of genius. 


One of the most valuable, and one of the most 
infectious examples which can be set before the 
young, is that of cheerful working. Cheerfulness 
gives elasticity to the spirit. Spectres fly before 
it ; difficulties cause no despair, for they are en- 
countered with hope, and the mind acquires that 
happy disposition to improve opportunities which 
rarely fails of success. The fervent spirit is always 
a healthy and happy spirit; working cheerfully 
itself, and stimulating others to work. It confers 
a dignity on even the most ordinary occupations. 
The most effective work, also, is usually the full- 
hearted work that which passes through the hands 
or the head of him whose heart is glad. Hume 
was accustomed to say that he would rather possess 
a cheerful disposition inclined always to look at 
the bright side of things than with a gloomy mind 
to be the master of an estate often thousand a year. 
Granville Sharp, amidst his indefatigable labours 
on behalf of the slave, solaced himself in the evening 
by taking part in glees and instrumental concerts 
at his brother's house, singing, or playing on the 
flute, the clarionet or the oboe ; and, at the Sunday 
evening oratorios, when Handel was played, he 
beat the kettle-drums. He also indulged, though 
sparingly, in caricature drawing. Fowell Buxton 
also was an eminently cheerful man ; taking special 
pleasure in field sports, in riding about the country 
with his children, and in mixing in all their 
domestic amusements. 

In another sphere of action, Dr. Arnold was 
a noble and a cheerful worker, throwing himself 
into the great business of his life, the training and 
teaching of young men, with his whole heart and 
soul. It is stated in his admirable biography, that 


" the most remarkable thing in the Laleham circle 
was the wonderful healthiness of tone which pre- 
vailed there. It was a place where a new-comer 
at once felt that a great and earnest work was 
going forward. Every pupil was made to feel that 
there was a work for him to do ; that his happiness, 
as well as his duty, lay in doing that work well. 
Hence an indescribable zest was communicated 
to a young man's feeling about life ; a strange joy 
came over him on discerning that he had the means 
of being useful, and thus of being happy; and a 
deep respect and ardent attachment sprang up 
towards him who had taught him thus to value 
life and his own self, and his work and mission 
in the world. All this was founded on the breadth 
and comprehensiveness of Arnold's character, as 
well as its striking truth and reality ; on the un- 
feigned regard he had for work of all kinds, and 
the sense he had of its value, both for the complex 
aggregate of society and the growth and protection 
of the individual. In all this there was no ex- 
citement; no predilection for one class of work 
above another ; no enthusiasm for any one-sided 
object : but a humble, profound, and most religious 
consciousness that work is the appointed calling 
of man on earth ; the end for which his various 
faculties were given ; the element in which his 
nature is ordained to develop itself, and in which 
his progressive advance towards heaven is to lie." 
Among the many valuable men trained for public 
life and usefulness by Arnold, was the gallant 
Hodson, of Hodson's Horse, who, writing home 
from India, many years after, thus spoke of his 
revered master: "The influence he produced has 
been most lasting and striking in its effects. 


It is felt even in India ; I cannot say more than 

The useful influence which a right-hearted man 
of energy and industry may exercise amongst his 
neighbours and dependants, and accomplish for his 
country, cannot, perhaps, be better illustrated than 
by the career of Sir John Sinclair; characterized 
by the Abbe Gregoire as "the most indefatigable 
man in Europe." He was originally a country 
laird, born to a considerable estate situated near 
John o' Groat's House, almost beyond the beat 
of civilization, in a bare wild country fronting the 
stormy North Sea. His father dying while he was 
a youth of sixteen, the management of the family 
property thus early devolved upon him ; and at 
eighteen he began a course of vigorous improve- 
ment in the county of Caithness, which eventually 
spread all over Scotland. Agriculture then was 
in a most backward state ; the fields were unen- 
closed, the lands undrained ; the small farmers of 
Caithness were so poor that they could scarcely 
afford to keep a horse or shelty ; the hard work 
was chiefly done, and the burdens borne, by the 
women ; and if a cottier lost a horse it was not 
unusual for him to marry a wife as the cheapest 
substitute. The country was without roads or 
bridges ; and drovers driving their cattle south 
had to swim the rivers along with their beasts. 
The chief track leading into Caithness lay along 
a high shelf on a mountain side, the road being 
some hundred feet of clear perpendicular height 
above the sea which dashed below. Sir John, 
though a mere youth, determined to make a new 
road over the hill of Ben Cheilt, the old let-alone 
proprietors, however, regarding his scheme with 


incredulity and derision. But he himself laid out 
the road, assembled some twelve hundred workmen 
early one summer's morning, set them simulta- 
neously to work, superintending their labours, and 
stimulating them by his presence and example; 
and before night, what had been a dangerous sheep 
track, six miles in length, hardly passable for led 
horses, was made practicable for wheel-carriages 
as if by the power of magic. It was an admirable 
example of energy and well-directed labour, which 
could not fail to have a most salutary influence 
upon the surrounding population. He then pro- 
ceeded to make more roads, to erect mills, to build 
bridges, and to enclose and cultivate the waste 
lands. He introduced improved methods of culture, 
and regular rotation of crops, distributing small 
premiums to encourage industry ; and he thus soon 
quickened the whole frame of society within reach 
of his influence, and infused an entirely new spirit 
into the cultivators of the soil. From being one 
of the most inaccessible districts of the North the 
very ultima Thule of civilization Caithness became 
a pattern county for its roads, its agriculture, and 
its fisheries. In Sinclair's youth, the post was 
carried by a runner only once a week, and the 
young baronet then declared that he would never 
rest till a coach drove daily to Thurso. The 
people of the neighbourhood could not believe 
in any such thing, and it became a proverb in the 
county to say of an utterly impossible scheme, 
" Ou, ay, that will come to pass when Sir John 
sees the daily mail at Thurso ! " But Sir John 
lived to see his dream realized, and the daily mail 
established to Thurso. 

The circle of his benevolent operation gradually 


widened. Observing the serious deterioration which 
had taken place in the quality of British wool, one 
of the staple commodities of the country, he forth- 
with, though but a private and little-known country 
gentleman, devoted himself to its improvement. 
By his personal exertions he established the British 
Wool Society for the purpose, and himself led the 
way to practical improvement by importing 800 
sheep from all countries, at his own expense. The 
result was, the introduction into Scotland of the 
celebrated Cheviot breed. Sheep farmers scouted 
the idea of South country flocks being able to thrive 
in the far North. But Sir John persevered ; and 
in a few years there were not fewer than 300,000 
Cheviots diffused over the four northern counties 
alone. The value of all grazing land was thus 
enormously increased ; and Scotch estates, which 
before were comparatively worthless, began to 
yield large rentals. 

Returned by Caithness to Parliament, in which 
he remained for thirty years, rarely missing a 
division, his position gave him further opportunities 
of usefulness, which he did not neglect to employ. 
Mr. Pitt, observing his persevering energy in all 
useful public projects, sent for him to Downing 
Street, and voluntarily proposed his assistance 
in any object he might have in view. Another 
man might have thought of himself and his own 
promotion ; but Sir John characteristically replied, 
that he desired no favour for himself, but intimated 
that the reward most gratifying to his feelings 
would be Mr. Pitt's assistance in the establishment 
of a National Board of Agriculture. Arthur Young 
laid a bet with the baronet that his scheme would 
never be established, adding, "Your Board of 

CHAP, xii] HIS ENERGY 445 

Agriculture will be in the moon !" But vigorously 
setting to work, he roused public attention to the 
subject, enlisted a majority of Parliament on his 
side, and eventually established the Board, of 
which he was appointed President. The result 
of its action need not be described, but the stimulus 
which it gave to agriculture and stock-raising 
was shortly felt throughout the whole United 
Kingdom, and tens of thousands of acres were 
redeemed from barrenness by its operation. He 
was equally indefatigable in encouraging the estab- 
lishment of fisheries ; and the successful founding 
of these great branches of British industry at Thurso 
and Wick was mainly due to his exertions. He 
urged for long years, and at length succeeded in 
obtaining the enclosure of a harbour for the latter 
place, which is perhaps the greatest and most 
prosperous fishing town in the world. 

Sir John threw his personal energy into every 
work in which he engaged, rousing the inert, 
stimulating the idle, encouraging the hopeful, and 
working with all. When a French invasion was 
threatened, he offered to Mr. Pitt to raise a 
regiment on his own estate, and he was as good 
as his word. He went down to the North, and 
raised a battalion of 600 men, afterwards increased 
to 1,000; and it was admitted to be one of the finest 
volunteer regiments evej raised, inspired through- 
out by his own noble and patriotic spirit. While 
commanding officer of the camp at Aberdeen he 
held the offices of a Director of the Bank of Scot- 
land, Chairman of the British Wool Society, Provost 
of Wick, Director of the British Fishery Society, 
Commissioner for issuing Exchequer Bills, Member 
of Parliament for Caithness, and President of the 


Board of Agriculture. Amidst all this multifarious 
and self-imposed work, he even found time to write 
books, enough of themselves to establish a reputa- 
tion. When Mr. Rush, the American Ambassador, 
arrived in England, he relates that he inquired of 
Mr. Coke, of Holkham, what was the best work 
on Agriculture, and was referred to Sir John 
Sinclair's ; and when he further asked of Mr. 
Vansittart, Chancellor of the Exchequer, what was 
the best work on British Finance, he was again 
referred to a work by Sir John Sinclair, his 
1 History of the Public Revenue.' But the great 
monument of his indefatigable industry, a work 
that would have appalled other men, but only 
served to rouse and sustain his energy, was his 
'Statistical Account of Scotland,' in twenty-one 
volumes, one of the most valuable practical works 
ever published in any age or country. Amid a 
host of other pursuits it occupied him nearly eight 
years of hard labour, during which he received, 
and attended to, upwards of 20,000 letters on the 
subject. It was a thoroughly patriotic undertaking, 
from which he derived no personal advantage what- 
ever, beyond the honour of having completed it. 
The whole of the profits were assigned by him to 
the Society for the Sons of the Clergy in Scotland. 
The publication of the book led to great public 
improvements ; it was followed by the immediate 
abolition of several oppressive feudal rights, to 
which it called attention : the salaries of school- 
masters and clergymen in many parishes were 
increased ; and an increased stimulus was given 
to agriculture throughout Scotland. Sir John then 
publicly offered to undertake the much greater 
labour of collecting and publishing a similar 


Statistical Account of England ; but unhappily the 
then Archbishop of Canterbury refused to sanction 
it, lest it should interfere with the tithes of the 
clergy, and the idea was abandoned. 

A remarkable illustration of his energetic prompti- 
tude was the manner in which he once provided, 
on a great emergency, for the relief of the manu- 
facturing districts. In 1793 the stagnation pro- 
duced by the war led to an unusual number of 
bankruptcies, and many of the first houses in 
Manchester and Glasgow were tottering, not so 
much from want of property, but because the 
usual sources of trade and credit were for the time 
closed up. A period of intense distress amongst 
the labouring classes seemed imminent, when Sir 
John urged, in Parliament, that Exchequer notes 
to the amount of five millions should be issued 
immediately as a loan to such merchants as could 
give security. This suggestion was adopted, and 
his offer to carry out his plan, in conjunction with 
certain members named by him, was also accepted. 
The vote was passed late at night, and early next 
morning Sir John, anticipating the delays of 
officialism and red tape, proceeded to bankers 
in the city, and borrowed of them, on his own 
personal security, the sum of 7o,ooo/., which he 
despatched the same evening to those merchants 
who were in the most urgent need of assistance. 
Pitt meeting Sir John in the House, expressed his 
great regret that the pressing wants of Manchester 
and Glasgow could not be supplied so soon as 
was desirable, adding, " The money cannot be raised 
for some days." " It is already gone ! it left London 
by to-night's mail ! " was Sir John's triumphant 
reply; and in afterwards relating the anecdote he 


added, with a smile of pleasure, " Pitt was as much 
startled as if I had stabbed him." To the last this 
great, good man worked on usefully and cheerfully, 
setting a great example for his family and for his 
country. In so laboriously seeking others' good, 
it might be said that he found his own not wealth, 
for his generosity seriously impaired his private 
fortune, but happiness, and self-satisfaction, and the 
peace that passes knowledge. A great patriot, with 
magnificent powers of work, he nobly did his duty 
to his country; yet he was not neglectful of his 
own household and home. His sons and daughters 
grew up to honour and usefulness ; and it was one 
of the proudest things Sir John could say, when 
verging on his eightieth year, that he had lived 
to see seven sons grown up, not one of whom 
had incurred a debt he could not pay, or caused 
him a sorrow that could have been avoided. 


"For who can always act? but he, 

To whom a thousand memories call, 
Not being less but more than all 
The gentleness he seemed to be, 

" But seemed the thing he was, and joined 
Each office of the social hour 
To noble manners, as the flower 
And native growth of noble mind ; 

"And thus he bore without abuse 
The grand old name of Gentleman." Tennyson. 

"Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, 
Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt." Goethe. 

"That which raises a country, that which strengthens a country, and that 
which dignifies a country that which spreads her power, creates her 
moral influence, and makes her respected and submitted to, bends the 
heart of millions, and bows down the pride of nations to her the 
instrument of obedience, the fountain of supremacy, the true throne, 
crown, and sceptre of a nation ; this aristocracy is not an aristocracy 
of blood, not an aristocracy of fashion, not an aristocracy of talent 
only ; it is an aristocracy of Character. That is the true heraldry of 
man." The Times. 

THE crown and glory of life is Character. It 
y is the noblest possession of a man, constituting 
a rank in itself, and an estate in the general 
goodwill ; dignifying every station, and exalting 
every position in society. It exercises a greater 
power than wealth, and secures all the honour 

449 29 


without the jealousies of fame. It carries with it 
an influence which always tells ; for it is the result 
of proved honour, rectitude, and consistency 
qualities which, perhaps more than any other, 
command the general confidence and respect of 

Character is human nature in its best form. It is 
moral order embodied in the individual. Men of 
character are not only the conscience of society, but 
in every well-governed State they are its best motive 
power ; for it is moral qualities in the main which 
rule the world. Even in war, Napoleon said the 
moral is to the physical as ten to one. The strength, 
the industry, and the civilization of nations all 
depend upon individual character; and the very 
foundations of civil security rest upon it. Laws 
and institutions are but its outgrowth. In the 
just balance of nature, individuals, nations, and 
races, will obtain just so much as they deserve, and 
no more. And as effect finds its cause, so surely 
does quality of character amongst a people produce 
its befitting results. 

Though a man have comparatively little culture, 
slender abilities, and but small wealth, yet, if his 
character be of sterling worth, he will always 
command an influence, whether it be in the work- 
shop, the counting-house, the mart, or the senate. 
Canning wisely wrote in 1801, " My road must be 
through Character to power; I will try no other 
course ; and I am sanguine enough to believe that 
this course, though not perhaps the quickest, is 
the surest." You may admire men of intellect ; 
but something more is necessary before you will 
trust them. Hence Lord John Russell once ob- 
served in a sentence full of truth, " It is the nature 


of party in England to ask the assistance of men 
of genius, but to follow the guidance of men of 
character." This was strikingly illustrated in the 
career of the late Francis Horner a man of whom 
Sydney Smith said that the Ten Commandments 
were stamped upon His countenance. " The 
valuable and peculiar light," says Lord Cockburn, 
" in which his history is calculated to inspire every 
right-minded youth, is this. He died at the age 
of thirty-eight ; possessed of greater public influence 
than any other private man ; and admired, beloved, 
trusted, and deplored by all, except the heartless 
or the base. No greater homage was ever paid 
in Parliament to any deceased member. Now let 
every young man ask how was this attained ? 
By rank? He was the son of an Edinburgh 
merchant. By wealth ? Neither he, nor any of 
his relations, ever had a superfluous sixpence. By 
office ? He held but one, and only for a few years, 
of no influence, and with very little pay. By 
talents ? His were not splendid, and he had no 
genius. Cautious and slow, his only ambition was 
to be right. By eloquence ? He spoke in calm, good 
taste, without any of the oratory that either terrifies 
or seduces. By any fascination of manner? His 
was only correct and agreeable. By what, then, 
was it ? Merely by sense, industry, good principles, 
and a good heart qualities which no well-con- 
stituted mind need ever despair of attaining. It 
was the force of his character that raised him ; 
and this character not impressed upon him by 
nature, but formed, out of no peculiarly fine elements, 
by himself. There were many in the House of 
Commons of far greater ability and eloquence. But 
no one surpassed him in the combination of an 


adequate portion of these with moral worth. 
Horner was born to show what moderate powers, 
nnaided by anything whatever except culture and 
goodness, may achieve, even when these powers 
are displayed amidst the competition and jealousy 
of public life." 

Franklin, also, attributed his success as a public 
man, not to his talents or his powers of speaking 
for these were but moderate but to his known 
integrity of character. Hence it was, he says, 
" that I had so much weight with my fellow citizens. 
I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject 
to much hesitation in my choice of words, hardly 
correct in language, and yet I generally carried 
my point." Character creates confidence in men 
of high station as well as in humble life. It was 
said of the first Emperor Alexander of Russia, 
that his personal character was equivalent to a 
constitution. During the wars of the Fronde, 
Montaigne was the only man amongst the French 
gentry who kept his castle gates unbarred; and 
it was said of him, that his personal character 
was a better protection for him than a regiment 
of horse would have been. 

That character is power, is true in a much higher 
sense than that knowledge is power. Mind with- 
out heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness 
without goodness, are powers in their way, but 
they may be powers only for mischief. We may 
be instructed or amused by them ; but it is some- 
times as difficult to admire them as it would be 
to admire the dexterity of a pickpocket or the 
horsemanship of a highwayman. 

Truthfulness, integrity, and goodness qualities 
that hang not on any man's breath form the 


essence of manly character, or, as one of our old 
writers has it, "that inbred loyalty unto Virtue 
which can serve her without a livery." He who 
possesses these qualities, united with strength of 
purpose, carries with him a power which is irre- 
sistible. He is strong to do good, strong to re- 
sist evil, and strong to bear up under difficulty 
and misfortune. When Stephen of Colonna fell 
into the hands of his base assailants, and they 
asked him in derision, "Where is now your for- 
tress?" "Here," was his bold reply, placing his 
hand upon his heart. It is in misfortune that 
the character of the upright man shines forth 
with the greatest lustre; and when all else fails, 
he takes stand upon his integrity and his courage. 

The rules of conduct followed by Lord Erskine 
a man of sterling independence of principle and 
scrupulous adherence to truth are worthy of being 
engraven on every young man's heart. " It was 
a first command and counsel of my earliest youth," 
he said, "always to do what my conscience told 
me to be a duty, and to leave the consequence to 
God. I shall carry with me the memory, and I 
trust the practice, of this parental lesson to the 
grave. I have hitherto followed it, and I have 
no reason to complain that my obedience to it 
has been a temporal sacrifice. I have found it, 
on the contrary, the road to prosperity and wealth, 
and I shall point out the same path to my children 
for their pursuit." 

Every man is bound to aim at the possession 
of a good character as one of the highest objects 
of life. The very effort to secure it by worthy 
means will furnish him with a motive for exertion ; 
and his idea of manhood, in proportion as it is 


elevated, will steady and animate his motive. It 
is well to have a high standard of life, even though 
we may not be able altogether to realize it. " The 
youth," says Mr. Disraeli, "who does not look up 
will look down ; and the spirit that does not soar 
is destined perhaps to grovel." George Herbert 
wisely writes : 

"Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high, 

So shalt thou humble and magnanimous be. 
Sink not in spirit ; who aimeth at the sky 
Shoots higher much than he that means a tree.* 

He who has a high standard of living and thinking 
will certainly do better than he who has none at 
all. " Pluck at a gown of gold," says the Scotch 
proverb, " and you may get a sleeve o't." Whoever 
tries for the highest results cannot fail to reach a 
point far in advance of that from which he started ; 
and though the end attained may fall short of that 
proposed, still, the very effort to rise, of itself 
cannot fail to prove permanently beneficial. 

There are many counterfeits of character, but the 
genuine article is difficult to be mistaken. Some, 
knowing its money value, would assume its disguise 
for the purpose of imposing upon the unwary. 
Colonel Charteris said to a man distinguished for 
his honesty, " I would give a thousand pounds for 
your good name." "Why?" "Because I could 
make ten thousand by it," was the knave's reply. 

Integrity in word and deed is the backbone of 
character ; and loyal adherence to veracity its most 
prominent characteristic. One of the finest testi- 
monies to the character of the late Sir Robert 
Peel was that borne by the Duke of Wellington in 
the House of Lords, a few days after the great 


statesman's death. " Your lordships," he said, 
"must all feel the high and honourable character 
of the late Sir Robert Peel. I was long connected 
with him in public life. We were both in the 
councils of our Sovereign together, and I had long 
the honour to enjoy his private friendship. In all 
the course of my acquaintance with him I never 
knew a man in whose truth and justice I had 
greater confidence, or in whom I saw a more 
invariable desire to promote the public service. In 
the whole course of my communication with him, 
I never knew an instance in which he did not 
show the strongest attachment to truth ; and I never 
saw in the whole course of my life the smallest 
reason for suspecting that he stated anything which 
he did not firmly believe to be the fact." And this 
high-minded truthfulness of the statesman was no 
doubt the secret of no small part of his influence 
and power. 

There is a truthfulness in action as well as in 
words, which is essential to uprightness of character. 
A man must really be what he seems or purposes 
to be. When an American gentleman wrote to 
Granville Sharp, that from respect for his great 
virtues he had named one of his sons after him, 
Sharp replied : " I must request you to teach him 
a favourite maxim of the family whose name you 
have given him Always endeavour to be really what 
you would wish to appear. This maxim, as my father 
informed me, was carefully and humbly practised 
by his father, whose sincerity, as a plain and honest 
man, thereby became the principal feature of his 
character, both in public and private life." Every 
man who respects himself, and values the respect 
of others, will carry out the maxim in act doing 


honestly what he proposes to do putting the 
highest character into his work, scamping nothing, 
but priding himself upon his integrity and con- 
scientiousness. Once Cromwell said to Bernard 
a clever but somewhat unscrupulous lawyer " I 
understand that you have lately been vastly wary 
in your conduct ; do not be too confident of this ; 
subtlety may deceive you, integrity never will." 
Men whose acts are at direct variance with their 
words command no respect, and what they 
say has but little weight ; even truths, when 
uttered by them, seem to come blasted from their 

The true character acts rightly, whether in 
secret or in the sight of men. That boy was well 
trained who, when asked why he did not pocket 
some pears, for nobody was there to see, replied, 
"Yes, there was : I was there to see myself; and 
I don't intend ever to see myself do a dishonest 
thing." This is a simple but not inappropriate 
illustration of principle, or conscience, dominating 
in the character, and exercising a noble protectorate 
over it; not merely a passive influence, but an 
active power regulating the life. Such a principle 
goes on moulding the character hourly and daily, 
growing with a force that operates every moment. 
Without this dominating influence, character has 
no protection, but is constantly liable to fall away 
before temptation ; and every such temptation suc- 
cumbed to, every act of meanness or dishonesty, 
however slight, causes self-degradation. It matters 
not whether the act be successful or not, discovered 
or concealed; the culprit is no longer the same, 
but another person ; and he is pursued by a secret 
uneasiness, by self-reproach, or the workings of 


what we call conscience, which is the inevitable 
doom of the guilty. 

And here it may be observed how greatly the 
character may be strengthened and supported by 
the cultivation of good habits. Man, it has been 
said, is a bundle of habits ; and habit is second 
nature. Metastasio entertained so strong an 
opinion as to the power of repetition in act and 
thought, that he said, " All is habit in mankind, 
even virtue itself." Butler, in his 'Analogy/ im- 
presses the importance of careful self-discipline and 
firm resistance to temptation, as tending to make 
virtue habitual, so that at length it may become 
more easy to be good than to give way to sin. 
"As habits belonging to the body," he says, "are 
produced by external acts, so habits of the mind 
are produced by the execution of inward practical 
purposes, i.e. carrying them into act, or acting 
upon them the principles of obedience, veracity, 
justice, and charity." And again, Lord Brougham 
says, when enforcing the immense importance of 
training and example in youth, " I trust everything 
under God to habit, on which, in all ages, the law- 
giver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed 
his reliance ; habit, which makes everything easy, 
and casts the difficulties upon the deviation from 
a wonted course." Thus, make sobriety a habit, 
and intemperance will be hateful ; make prudence a 
habit, and reckless profligacy will become revolting 
to every principle of conduct which regulates the 
life of the individual. Hence the necessity for the 
greatest care and watchfulness against the inroad 
of any evil habit ; for the character is always 
weakest at that point at which it has once given 
way ; and it is long before a principle restored can 


become so firm as one that has never been moved. 
It is a fine remark of a Russian writer, that " Habits 
are a necklace of pearls : untie the knot, and the 
whole unthreads." 

Wherever formed, habit acts involuntarily, and 
without effort ; and it is only when you oppose it 
that you find how powerful it has become. What 
is done once and again, soon gives facility and 
proneness. The habit at first may seem to have 
no more strength than a spider's web; but, once 
formed, it binds as with a chain of iron. The small 
events of life, taken singly, may seem exceedingly 
unimportant, like snow that falls silently, flake by 
flake ; yet accumulated, these snow-flakes form the 

Self-respect, self-help, application, industry, in- 
tegrity all are of the nature of habits, not beliefs. 
Principles, in fact, are but the names which we 
assign to habits ; for the principles are words, 
but the habits are the things themselves : bene- 
factors or tyrants, according as they are good or 
evil. It thus happens that as we grow older a 
portion of our free activity and individuality 
becomes suspended in habit ; our actions become 
of the nature of fate ; and we are bound by the 
chains which we have woven around ourselves. 

It is indeed scarcely possible to over-estimate 
the importance of training the young to virtuous 
habits. In them they are the easiest formed, and 
when formed they last for life ; like letters cut on 
the bark of a tree, they grow and widen with age. 
" Train up a child in the way he should go, and 
when he is old he will not depart from it." The 
beginning holds within it the end ; the first 
start on the road of life determines the direction 


and the destination of the journey; ce riest que le 
premier pas qui coute. " Remember," said Lord 
Collingwood to a young man whom he loved, 
" before you are five-and-twenty you must establish 
a character that will serve you all your life." As 
habit strengthens with age, and character becomes 
formed, any turning into a new path becomes more 
and more difficult. Hence, it is often harder to 
unlearn than to learn ; and for this reason the 
Grecian flute-player was justified who charged 
double fees to those pupils who had been taught 
by an inferior master. To uproot an old habit is 
sometimes a more painful thing, and vastly more 
difficult, than to wrench out a tooth. Try and 
reform a habitually indolent, or improvident, or 
drunken person, and in a large majority of cases 
you will fail. For the habit in each case has wound 
itself in and through the life until it has become 
an integral part of it, and cannot be uprooted. 
Hence, as Mr. Lynch observes, "the wisest habit 
of all is the habit of care in the formation of good 

Even happiness itself may become habitual. 
There is a habit of looking at the bright side of 
things, and also of looking at the dark side. Dr. 
Johnson has said that the habit of looking at the 
best side of a thing is worth more to a man 
than a thousand pounds a year. And we possess 
the power, to a great extent, of so exercising the 
will as to direct the thoughts upon objects cal- 
culated to yield happiness and improvement rather 
than their opposites. In this way the habit of 
happy thought may be made to spring up like any 
other habit. And to bring up men or women with 
a genial nature of this sort, a good temper, and 


a happy frame of mind, is perhaps of even more 
importance, in many cases, than to perfect them 
in much knowledge and many accomplishments. 

As daylight can be seen through very small 
holes, so little things will illustrate a person's 
character. Indeed, character consists in little acts, 
well and honourably performed ; daily life being 
the quarry from which we build it up, and rough- 
hew the habits which form it. One of the most 
marked tests of character is the manner in which 
we conduct ourselves towards others. A graceful 
behaviour towards superiors, inferiors, and equals 
is a constant source of pleasure. It pleases others 
because it indicates respect for their personality ; 
but it gives tenfold more pleasure to ourselves. 
Every man may to a large extent be a self-educator 
in good behaviour, as in everything else ; he can 
be civil and kind, if he will, though he have not 
a penny in his purse. Gentleness in society is like 
the silent influence of light, which gives colour 
to all nature ; it is far more powerful than loud- 
ness or force, and far more fruitful. It pushes its 
way quietly and persistently, like the tiniest 
daffodil in spring, which raises the clod and thrusts 
it aside by the simple persistency of growing. 

Even a kind look will give pleasure and confer 
happiness. In one of Robertson of Brighton's 
letters, he tells of a lady who related to him "the 
delight, the tears of gratitude, which she had 
witnessed in a poor girl to whom, in passing, I 
gave a kind look on going out of church on Sunday. 
What a lesson ! How cheaply happiness can be 
given ! What opportunities we miss of doing an 
angel's work! I remember doing it, full of sad 
feelings, passing on, and thinking no more about 


it ; and it gave an hour's sunshine to a human life, 
and lightened the load of life to a human heart for 
a time ! " * 

Morals and manners, which give colour to life, 
are of much greater importance than laws, which 
are but their manifestations. The law touches us 
here and there, but manners are about us every- 
where, pervading society like the air we breathe. 
Good manners, as we call them, are neither more 
nor less than good behaviour ; consisting of 
courtesy and kindness ; benevolence being the 
preponderating element in all kinds of mutually 
beneficial and pleasant intercourse amongst human 
beings. " Civility," said Lady Montague, " costs 
nothing and buys everything." The cheapest of 
all things is kindness, its exercise requiring the 
least possible trouble and self-sacrifice. " Win 
hearts," said Burleigh to Queen Elizabeth, " and 
you have all men's hearts and purses." If we would 
only let nature act kindly, free from affectation and 
artifice, the results on social good humour and 
happiness would be incalculable. The little 
courtesies which form the small change of life may 
separately appear of little intrinsic value, but they 
acquire their importance from repetition and ac- 
cumulation. They are like the spare minutes, or 
the groat a day, which proverbially produce such 
momentous results in the course of a twelvemonth, 
or in a lifetime. 

Manners are the ornament of action ; and there 
is a way of speaking a kind word, or of doing a 
kind thing, which greatly enhances their value. 
What seems to be done with a grudge, or as an 
act of condescension, is scarcely accepted as a 

* Robertson's 'Life and Letters,' i. 258. 


favour. Yet there are men who pride themselves 
upon their gruffness ; and though they may possess 
virtue and capacity, their manner is often such as 
to render them almost insupportable. It is difficult 
to like a man who, though he may not pull your 
nose, habitually wounds your self-respect, and takes 
a pride in saying disagreeable things to you. 
There are others who are dreadfully condescending, 
and cannot avoid seizing upon every small oppor- 
tunity of making their greatness felt. When 
Abernethy was canvassing for the office of surgeon 
to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, he called upon such 
a person a rich grocer, one of the governors. 
The great man behind the counter, seeing the great 
surgeon enter, immediately assumed the grand air 
towards the supposed suppliant for his vote. " I 
presume, sir, you want my vote and interest at 
this momentous epoch of your life ? " Abernethy, 
who hated humbugs, and felt nettled at the tone, 
replied : " No, I don't : I want a pennyworth of 
figs ; come, look sharp and wrap them up ; I want 
to be off!" 

The cultivation of manner though in excess 
it is foppish and foolish is highly necessary in a 
person who has occasion to negotiate with others 
in matters of business. Affability and good breed- 
ing may even be regarded as essential to the success 
of a man in any eminent station and enlarged sphere 
of life ; for the want of it has not unfrequently been 
found in a great measure to neutralize the results 
of much industry, integrity, and honesty of character. 
There are, no doubt, a few strong, tolerant minds 
which can bear with defects and angularities of 
manner, and look only to the more genuine qualities ; 
but the world at large is not so forbearant, and 


cannot help forming its judgments and likings 
mainly according to outward conduct. 

Another mode of displaying true politeness is 
consideration for the opinions of others. It has 
been said of dogmatism, that it is only puppyism 
come to its full growth ; and certainly the worst 
form this quality can assume is that of opinionative- 
ness and arrogance. Let men agree to differ, and 
when they do differ, bear and forbear. Principles 
and opinions may be maintained with perfect 
suavity, without coming to blows or uttering hard 
words ; and there are circumstances in which words 
are blows, and inflict wounds far less easy to heal. 
As bearing upon this point, we quote an instructive 
little parable spoken some time since by an 
itinerant preacher of the Evangelical Alliance on 
the borders of Wales : " As I was going to the 
hills," said he, " early one misty morning, I saw 
something moving on a mountain side, so strange 
looking that I took it for a monster. When I 
came nearer to it I found it was a man. When I 
came up to him I found he was my brother." 

The inbred politeness which springs from right- 
heartedness and kindly feelings is of no exclusive 
rank or station. The mechanic who works at the 
bench may possess it, as well as the clergyman 
or the peer. It is by no means a necessary con- 
dition of labour that it should, in any respect, be 
either rough or coarse. The politeness and refine- 
ment which distinguish all classes of the people 
in many continental countries show that those 
qualities might become ours too as doubtless they 
will become with increased culture and more 
general social intercourse without sacrificing any 
of our more genuine qualities as men. From the 


highest to the lowest, the richest to the poorest, 
to no rank or condition in life has nature denied 
her highest boon the great heart. There never 
yet existed a gentleman but was lord of a great 
heart. And this may exhibit itself under the hodden 
grey of the peasant as well as under the laced 
coat of the noble. Robert Burns was once taken 
to task by a young Edinburgh blood, with whom 
he was walking, for recognizing an honest farmer 
in the open street. " Why you fantastic gomeral," 
exclaimed Burns, "it was not the great-coat, the 
scone bonnet, and the saunders-boot hose that I 
spoke to, but the man that was in them ; and the 
man, sir, for true worth, would weigh down you 
and me, and ten more such, any day." There may 
be a homeliness in externals, which may seem 
vulgar to those who cannot discern the heart 
beneath; but, to the right-minded, character will 
always have its clear insignia. 

William and Charles Grant were the sons of a 
farmer in Inverness-shire, whom a sudden flood 
stripped of everything, even to the very soil which 
he tilled. The farmer and his sons, with the world 
before them where to choose, made their way 
southward in search of employment until they 
arrived in the neighbourhood of Bury ,in Lancashire. 
From the crown of the hill near Walmersley they 
surveyed the wide extent of country which lay 
before them, the river Irwell making its circuitous 
course through the valley. They were utter 
strangers in the neighbourhood, and knew not 
which way to turn. To decide their course they 
put up a stick, and agreed to pursue the direction 
in which it fell. Thus their decision was made, 
and they journeyed on accordingly until they 


reached the village of Ramsbotham, not far distant. 
They found employment in a print-work, in which 
William served his apprenticeship ; and they com- 
mended themselves to their employers by their 
diligence, sobriety, and strict integrity. They 
plodded on, rising from one station to another, 
until at length the two men themselves became 
employers, and after many long years of industry, 
enterprise, and benevolence, they became rich, 
honoured, and respected by all who knew them. 
Their cotton-mills and print-works gave employment 
to a large population. Their well-directed diligence 
made the valley teem with activity, joy, health, 
and opulence. Out of their abundant wealth they 
gave liberally to all worthy objects, erecting 
churches, founding schools, and in all ways pro- 
moting the well-being of the class of working-men 
from which they had sprung. They afterwards 
erected, on the top of the hill above Walmersley, 
a lofty tower in commemoration of the early event 
in their history which had determined the place of 
their settlement. The brothers Grant became widely 
celebrated for their benevolence and their various 
goodness, and it is said that Mr. Dickens had them 
in his mind's eye when delineating the character 
of the brothers Cheeryble. 

One amongst many anecdotes of a similar kind 
may be cited to show that the character was by 
no means exaggerated. A Manchester ware- 
houseman published an exceedingly scurrilous 
pamphlet against the firm of Grant Brothers, 
holding up the elder partner to ridicule as 
" Billy Button." William was informed by some 
one of the nature of the pamphlet, and his obser- 
vation was that the man would live to repent of 



it. ' Oh ! " said the libeller, when informed of the 
remark, " he thinks that some time or other I 
shall be in his debt ; but I will take good care 
of that." It happens, however, that men in business 
do not always foresee who shall be their creditor, 
and it so turned out that the Grants' libeller became 
a bankrupt, and could not complete his certificate 
and begin business again without obtaining their 
signature. It seemed to him a hopeless case to 
call upon that firm for any favour, but the pressing 
claims of his family forced him to make the applica- 
tion. He appeared before the man whom he had 
ridiculed as " Billy Button " accordingly. He told 
his tale and produced his certificate. " You wrote 
a pamphlet against us once ? " said Mr. Grant. 
The supplicant expected to see his document thrown 
into the fire ; instead of which Grant signed the 
name of the firm, and thus completed the necessary 
certificate. " We make it a rule," said he, handing 
it back, " never to refuse signing the certificate 
of an honest tradesman, and we have never heard 
that you were anything else." The tears started 
into the man's eyes. "Ah," continued Mr. Grant, 
" you see my saying was true, that you would live 
to repent writing that pamphlet. I did not mean it 
as a threat I only meant that some day you would 
know us better, and repent having tried to injure 
us." " I do, I do, indeed, repent it." " Well, well, 
you know us now. But how do you get on what 
are you going to do ?" The poor man stated that 
he had friends who would assist him when his 
certificate was obtained. "But how are you off 
in the meantime ? " The answer was, that, having 
given up every farthing to his creditors, he had 
been compelled to stint his family in even the 


common necessaries of life, that he might be 
enabled to pay for his certificate. " My good fellow, 
this will never do ; your wife and family must not 
suffer in this way; be kind enough to take this 
ten-pound note to your wife from me : there, there, 
now don't cry, it will be all well with you yet; 
keep up your spirits, set to work like a man, and 
you will raise your head among the best of us yet." 
The overpowered man endeavoured with choking 
utterance to express his gratitude, but in vain ; and 
putting his hand to his face, he went out of the 
room sobbing like a child. 

The True Gentleman is one whose nature has 
been fashioned after the highest models. It is 
a grand old name, that of Gentleman, and has been 
recognized as a rank and power in all stages of 
society. " The Gentleman is always the Gentle- 
man," said the old French General to his regiment 
of Scottish gentry at Rousillon, " and invariably 
proves himself such in need and in danger." To 
possess this character is a dignity of itself, com- 
manding the instinctive homage of every generous 
mind, and those who will not bow to titular rank 
will yet do homage to the gentleman. His qualities 
depend not upon fashion or manners, but upon 
moral worth not on personal possessions, but 
on personal qualities. The Psalmist briefly de- 
scribes him as one " that walketh uprightly, and 
worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth 
in his heart." 

The gentleman is eminently distinguished for 
his self-respect. He values his character, not so 
much of it only as can be seen of others, but as 
he sees it himself; having regard for the approval 
of his inward monitor. And, as he respects 


himself, so, by the same law, does he respect others. 
Humanity is sacred in his eyes : and thence pro- 
ceed politeness and forbearance, kindness and 
charity. It is related of Lord Edward Fitzgerald 
that, while travelling in Canada, in company with 
the Indians, he was shocked by the sight of a 
poor squaw trudging along laden with her hus- 
band's trappings, while the chief himself walked 
on unencumbered. Lord Edward at once relieved 
the squaw of her pack by placing it upon his own 
shoulders, a beautiful instance of what the French 
call politesse de cceur the inbred politeness of the 
true gentleman. 

The true gentleman has a keen sense of honour, 
scrupulously avoiding mean actions. His standard 
2)f probity in word and action is high. He does 
not shuffle or prevaricate, dodge or skulk; but is 
honest, upright, and straightforward. His law is 
rectitude action in right lines. When he saysjy^s, 
it is a law : and he dares to say the valiant no at 
the fitting season. The gentleman will not be 
bribed ; only the low-minded and unprincipled will 
sell themselves to those who are interested in 
buying them. When the upright Jonas Hanway 
officiated as commissioner in the victualling depart- 
ment, he declined to receive a present of any kind 
from a contractor ; refusing thus to be biassed 
in the performance of his public duty. A fine trait 
of the same kind is to be noted in the life of the 
Duke of Wellington. Shortly after the battle 
of Assaye, one morning the Prime Minister of the 
Court of Hyderabad waited upon him for the pur- 
pose of privately ascertaining what territory and 
what advantages had been reserved for his master 
in the treaty of peace between the Mahratta princes 


and the Nizam. To obtain this information the 
minister offered the general a very large sum 
considerably above ioo,ooo/. Looking at him 
quietly for a few seconds, Sir Arthur said, " It 
appears, then, that you are capable of keeping a 
secret ? " " Yes, certainly," replied the minister. 
" Then so am I" said the English general, smiling, 
and bowed the minister out. It was to Wellington's 
great honour, that though uniformly successful in 
India, and with the power of earning in such modes 
as this enormous wealth, he did not add a farthing 
to his fortune, and returned to England a com- 
paratively poor man. 

A similar sensitiveness and high-mindedness 
characterized his noble relative, the Marquis of 
Wellesley, who, on one occasion, positively refused 
a present of ioo,ooo/. proposed to be given him by 
the directors of the East India Company on the 
conquest of Mysore. " It is not necessary," said 
he, "for me to allude to the independence of my 
character, and the proper dignity attaching to my 
office ; other reasons besides these important con- 
siderations lead me to decline this testimony, which 
is not suitable to me. / think of nothing but our 
army. I should be much distressed to curtail 
the share of those brave soldiers." And the 
Marquis's resolution to refuse the present remained 

Sir Charles Napier exhibited the same noble 
self-denial in the course of his Indian career. He 
rejected all the costly gifts which barbaric princes 
were ready to lay at his feet, and said with truth, 
"Certainly I could have got 3O,ooo/. since my 
coming to Scinde, but my hands do not want 
washing yet. Our dear father's sword, which I 


wore in both battles (Meanee and Hyderabad), is 

Riches and rank have no necessary connexion 
with genuine gentlemanly qualities. The poor man 
may be a true gentleman in spirit and in daily 
life. He may be honest, truthful, upright, polite, 
temperate, courageous, self-respecting, and self- 
helping that is, be a true gentleman. The poor 
man with a rich spirit is in all ways superior to 
the rich man with a poor spirit. To borrow St. 
Paul's words, the former is as " having nothing, yet 
possessing all things," while the other, though pos- 
sessing all things, has nothing. The former hopes 
everything, and fears nothing; the latter hopes 
nothing, and fears everything. Only the poor in 
spirit are really poor. He who has lost all, but 
retains his courage, cheerfulness, hope, virtue, and 
self-respect, is still rich. For such a man the world 
is, as it were, held in trust ; his spirit dominating 
over its grosser cares, he can still walk erect, a true 

Occasionally, the brave and gentle character 
may be found under the humblest garb. Here is 
an old illustration, but a fine one. Once on a time, 
when the Adige suddenly overflowed its banks, the 
bridge of Verona was carried away, with the ex- 
ception of the centre arch, on which stood a house, 
whose inhabitants supplicated help from the 
windows, while the foundations were visibly giving 
way. "I will give a hundred French louis," said 
the Count Spolverini, who stood by, " to any person 
who will venture to deliver these unfortunate 
people." A young peasant came forth from the 
crowd, seized a boat, and pushed into the stream. 
He gained the pier, received the whole family into 


the boat, and made for the shore, where he landed 
them in safety. " Here is your money, my brave 
young fellow," said the Count. "No," was the 
answer of the young man, " I do not sell my life ; 
give the money to this poor family, who have 
need of it." Here spoke the true spirit of the 
gentleman, though he was but in the garb of a 

Not less touching was the heroic conduct of 
a party of Deal boatmen in rescuing the crew of a 
collier-brig in the Downs but a short time ago.* 
A sudden storm which set in from the north-east 
drove several ships from their anchors, and it 
being low water, one of them struck the ground 
at a considerable distance from the shore, when 
the sea made a clean breach over her. There was 
not a vestige of hope for the vessel, such was the 
fury of the wind and the violence of the waves. 
There was nothing to tempt the boatmen on shore 
to risk their lives in saving either ship or crew, 
for not a farthing of salvage was to be looked for. 
But the daring intrepidity of the Deal boatmen was 
not wanting at this critical moment. No sooner 
had the brig grounded than Simon Pritchard, one 
of the many persons assembled along the beach, 
threw off his coat and called out, " Who will come 
with me and try to save that crew ? " Instantly 
twenty men sprang forward, with " I will," " and I." 
But seven only were wanted; and running down 
a galley punt into the surf, they leaped in and 
dashed through the breakers, amidst the cheers 
of those on shore. How the boat lived in such 
a sea seemed a miracle ; but in a few minutes, 
impelled by the strong arms of these gallant men, 

* On the nth January, 1866. 


she flew on and reached the stranded ship, " catching 
her on the top of a wave " ; and in less than a 
quarter of an hour from the time the boat left the 
shore, the six men who composed the crew of the 
collier were landed safe on Walmer Beach. A 
nobler instance of indomitable courage and dis- 
interested heroism on the part of the Deal boat- 
men brave though they are always known to be 
perhaps cannot be cited ; and we have pleasure in 
here placing it on record. 

Mr. Turnbull, in his work on 'Austria,' relates 
an anecdote of the late Emperor Francis, in illustra- 
tion of the manner in which the Government of 
that country has been indebted, for its hold upon 
the people, to the personal qualities of its princes. 
"At the time when the cholera was raging at 
Vienna, the emperor, with an aide-de-camp, was 
strolling about the streets of the city and suburbs, 
when a corpse was dragged past on a litter unac- 
companied by a single mourner. The unusual 
circumstance attracted his attention, and he learnt, 
on inquiry, that the deceased was a poor person 
who had died of cholera, and that the relatives 
had not ventured on what was then considered 
the very dangerous office of attending the body 
to the grave. ' Then,' said Francis, ' we will 
supply their place, for none of my poor people 
should go to the grave without that last mark 
of respect ' ; and he followed the body to the 
distant place of interment, and, bare-headed, stood 
to see every rite and observance respectfully 

Fine though this illustration may be of the 
qualities of the gentleman, we can match it by 
another equally good, of two English navvies in 


Paris, as related in a morning paper a few years 
ago. " One day a hearse was observed ascending 
the steep Rue de Clichy on its way to Montmartre, 
bearing a coffin of poplar wood with its cold 
corpse. Not a soul followed not even the living 
dog of the dead man, if he had one. The day was 
rainy and dismal ; passers by lifted the hat as is 
usual when a funeral passes, and that was all. 
At length it passed two English navvies, who 
found themselves in Paris on their way from Spain. 
A right feeling spoke from beneath their serge 
jackets. ' Poor wretch ! ' said the one to the other, 
no one follows him ; let us two follow ! ' And 
the two took off their hats, and walked bare-headed 
after the corpse of a stranger to the cemetery of 

Above all, the gentleman is truthful. He feels 
that truth is the " summit of being," and the soul 
of rectitude in human affairs. Lord Chesterfield 
declared that Truth made the success of a gentle- 
man. The Duke of Wellington, writing to Keller- 
man, on the subject of prisoners on parole, when 
opposed to that general in the Peninsula, told him 
that if there was one thing on which an English 
officer prided himself more than another, excepting 
his courage, it was his truthfulness. " When 
English officers," said he, " have given their parole 
of honour not to escape, be sure they will not break 
it. Believe me trust to their word ; the word of 
an English officer is a surer guarantee than the 
vigilance of sentinels." 

True courage and gentleness go hand in hand. 
The brave man is generous and forbearant, never 
unforgiving and cruel. It was finely said of Sir 
John Franklin by his friend Parry, that "he was 


a man who never turned his back upon a danger, 
yet of that tenderness that he would not brush 
away a mosquito." A fine trait of character truly 
gentle, and worthy of the spirit of Bayard was 
displayed by a French officer in the cavalry combat 
of El Bodon, in Spain. He had raised his sword 
to strike Sir Felton Harvey, but perceiving his 
antagonist had only one arm, he instantly stopped, 
brought down his sword before Sir Felton in the 
usual salute and rode past. To this may be added 
a noble and gentle deed of Ney during the same 
Peninsular War. Charles Napier was taken prisoner 
at Corunna, desperately wounded ; and his friends 
did not know whether he was alive or dead. A 
special messenger was sent out from England with 
a frigate to ascertain his fate. Baron Clouet re- 
ceived the flag, and informed Ney of the arrival. 
" Let the prisoner see his friends," said Ney, " and 
tell them he is well, and well treated." Clouet 
lingered, and Ney asked, smiling, "what more he 
wanted " ? " He has an old mother, a widow, and 
blind." " Has he ? then let him go himself and tell 
her he is alive." As the exchange of prisoners 
between the countries was not then allowed, Ney 
knew that he risked the displeasure of the Emperor 
by setting the young officer at liberty ; but Napoleon 
approved the generous act. 

Notwithstanding the wail which we occasionally 
hear for the chivalry that is gone, our own age 
has witnessed deeds of bravery and gentleness of 
heroic self-denial and manly tenderness which are 
unsurpassed in history. The events of the last 
few years have shown that our countrymen are 
as yet an undegenerate race. On the bleak plateau 
of Sebastopol, in the dripping perilous trenches 


of that twelvemonth's leaguer, men of all classes 
proved themselves worthy of the noble inheritance 
of character which their forefathers have bequeathed 
to them. But it was in the hour of the great trial 
in India that the qualities of our countrymen shone 
forth the brightest. The march of Neill on Cawn- 
pore, of Havelock on Lucknow officers and men 
alike urged on by the hope of rescuing the women 
and children are events which the whole history 
of chivalry cannot equal. Outram's conduct to 
Havelock, in resigning to him, though his inferior 
officer, the honour of leading the attack on Lucknow, 
was a trait worthy of Sydney, and alone justifies 
the title which has been awarded to him of "the 
Bayard of India." The death of Henry Lawrence 
that brave and gentle spirit his last words before 
dying, " Let there be no fuss about me ; let me 
be buried with the men" the anxious solicitude of 
Sir Colin Campbell to rescue the beleaguered of 
Lucknow, and to conduct his long train of women 
and children by night from thence to Cawnpore, 
which he reached amidst the all but overpowering 
assault of the enemy, the care with which he led 
them across the perilous bridge, never ceasing his 
charge over them until he had seen the precious 
convoy safe on the road to Allahabad, and then 
burst upon the Gwalior contingent like a thunder- 
clap ; such things make us feel proud of our 
countrymen and inspire the conviction that the 
best and purest glow of chivalry is not dead, but 
vigorously lives among us yet. 

Even the common soldiers proved themselves 
gentlemen under their trials. At Agra, where so 
many poor fellows had been scorched and wounded 
in their encounter with the enemy, they were 


brought into the fort, and tenderly nursed by the 
ladies; and the rough, gallant fellows proved 
gentle as any children. During the weeks that the 
ladies watched over their charge, never a word was 
said by any soldier that could shock the ear of 
the gentlest. And when all was over when the 
mortally wounded had died, and the sick and 
maimed who survived were able to demonstrate 
their gratitude they invited their nurses and the 
chief people of Agra to an entertainment in the 
beautiful gardens of the Taj, where, amidst flowers 
and music, the rough veterans, all scarred and 
mutilated as they were, stood up to thank their 
gentle countrywomen who had clothed and fed 
them, and ministered to their wants during their 
time of sore distress. In the hospitals at Scutari, 
too, many wounded and sick blessed the kind 
English ladies who nursed them ; and nothing can 
be finer than the thought of the poor sufferers, 
unable to rest through pain, blessing the shadow 
of Florence Nightingale as it fell upon their pillow 
in the night watches. 

The wreck of the Birkenhead off the coast of 
Africa on February 2/th, 1852, affords another 
memorable illustration of the chivalrous spirit of 
common men acting in this nineteenth century, of 
which any age might be proud. The vessel was 
steaming along the African coast with 472 men and 
1 66 women and children on board. The men be- 
longed to several regiments then serving at the 
Cape, and consisted principally of recruits who had 
been only a short time in the service. At two 
o'clock in the morning, while all were asleep below, 
the ship struck with violence upon a hidden rock 
which penetrated her bottom ; and it was at once 


felt that she must go down. The roll of the drums 
called the soldiers to arms on the upper deck, and 
the men mustered as if on parade. The word was 
passed to save the women and children; and the 
helpless creatures were brought from below, mostly 
undressed, and handed silently into the boats. 
When they had all left the ship's side, the com- 
mander of the vessel thoughtlessly called out, "All 
those that can swim, jump overboard and make for 
the boats." But Captain Wright, of the pist High- 
landers said, " No ! if you do that, the boats with the 
women must be swamped 11 ; and the brave men stood 
motionless. There was no boat remaining, and no 
hope of safety ; but not a heart quailed ; no one 
flinched from his duty in that trying moment. 
" There was not a murmur nor a cry amongst 
them," said Captain Wright, a survivor, " until the 
vessel made her final plunge." Down went the 
ship, and down went the heroic band, firing a feu 
de joie as they sank beneath the waves. Glory and 
honour to the gentle and the brave The examples 
of such men can never die, but, like their memories, 
are immortal. 

There are many tests by which a gentleman 
may be known ; but there is one that never fails 
How does he exercise power over those subordinate 
to him? How does he conduct himself towards 
women and children ? How does the officer treat 
his men, the employer his servants, the master his 
pupils, and man in every station those who are 
weaker than himself ? The discretion, forbearance, 
and kindliness with which power in such cases is 
used may indeed be regarded as the crucial test of 
gentlemanly character. When La Motte was one 
day passing through a crowd, he accidentally trod 


upon the foot of a young fellow, who forthwith 
struck him on the face: "Ah, sir," said La Motte, 
" you will surely be sorry for what you have done, 
when you know that / am blind." He who bullies 
those who are not in a position to resist may 
be a snob, but cannot be a gentleman. He 
who tyrannizes over the weak and helpless 
may be a coward, but no true man. The tyrant, 
it has been said, is but a slave turned inside 
out. Strength, and the consciousness of strength, 
in a right-hearted man imparts a nobleness to his 
character; but he will be most careful how he 
uses it ; for 

"It is excellent 

To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous 
To use it like a giant." 

Gentleness is indeed the best test of gentle- 
manliness. A consideration for the feelings of 
others, for his inferiors and dependants as well 
as his equals, and respect for their self-respect, 
will pervade the true gentleman's whole conduct. 
He will rather himself suffer a small injury, than 
by an uncharitable construction of another's be- 
haviour incur the risk of committing a great wrong. 
He will be forbearant of the weaknesses, the 
failings, and the errors of those whose advantages 
in life have not been equal to his own. He will 
be merciful even to his beast. He will not boast 
of his wealth, or his strength, or his gifts. He 
will not be puffed up by success, or unduly 
depressed by failure. He will not obtrude his 
views on others, 'but speak his mind freely when 
occasion calls for it. He will not confer favours 
with a patronizing air. Sir Walter Scott once 


said of Lord Lothian, " He is a man from whom 
one may receive a favour, and that's saying a 
great deal in these days." 

Lord Chatham has said that the gentleman is 
characterized by his sacrifice of self and preference 
of others to himself in the little daily occurrences 
of life. In illustration of this ruling spirit of con- 
siderateness in a noble character, we may cite 
the anecdote of the gallant Sir Ralph Abercromby, 
of whom it is related, that when mortally wounded 
in the battle of Aboukir, he was carried in a 
litter on board the Foudrqyant; and, to ease 
his pain, a soldier's blanket was placed under his 
head, from which he experienced considerable 
relief. He asked what it was. " It's only a soldier's 
blanket," was the reply. " Whose blanket is it ? " 
said he, half lifting himself up. "Only one of the 
men's." " I wish to know the name of the man 
whose blanket this is." " It is Duncan Roy's, of 
the 42nd, Sir Ralph." " Then see that Duncan Roy 
gets his blanket this very night."* Even to ease 
his dying agony the general would not deprive 
the private soldier of his blanket for one night. 
The incident is as good in its way as that of the 
dying Sydney handing his cup of water to the 
private soldier on the field of Zutphen. 

The quaint old Fuller sums up in a few words 
the character of the true gentleman and man of 
action in describing that of the great admiral, 
Sir Francis Drake : " Chaste in his life, just in his 
dealings, true of his word; merciful to those that 
were under him, and hating nothing so much as 
idlenesse ; in matters especially of moment, he was 
never wont to rely on other men's care, how trusty 

* Brown's ' Horae Subsecivae.' 


or skilful soever they might seem to be, but, always 
contemning danger, and refusing no toyl, he was 
wont himself to be one (whoever was a second) 
at every turn, where courage, skill, or industry, 
was to be employed." 



anecdote of, 479 
Abernethy, surgeon, anecdote 

of, 462 

Accuracy, 319 
Activity, examples of, 195 
Acts and consequences, 349, 


Addison, 13, 155 
Adrian VI., 14 
Adversity, uses of, 349 
Akenside, poet, II 
Alfieri, in youth, 418 
Angelo, Michael, 140, 184, 


Application and persever- 
ance, in, 115. 4 I 7' 22 
Arkwright, Sir R., 38-44 
Arne, Dr., musician, 233 
Arnold, Dr., on self-educa- 
tion, 370, 437 ; a cheerful 
worker, 441 

Attention, habit of, 38, 115 
Audubon, ornithologist, his 

perseverance, 118 
Austria, Emperor of, anec- 
dote of, 472 

BABBAGE, on acts and conse- 
quences, 427 

Bach, John Sebastian, 232 
Bacon, Lord, 7, 23, 183, 314 ; 
his notes, 156; on economy, 

349 ; on knowledge, 390 
Banks, sculptor, 189 
Barberini vase, the, and 

Wedgwood, 107 
Barbers, eminent, 39 
Barclay, David, merchant, 

his character and work, 

Barrow, Isaac, 376 ; as a boy, 


Baxter, Richard, on time, 155 
Beethoven, 232, 399, 435 
Bell, Sir Charles, 166 
Bewick, wood-engraver, 147 
Biography, its uses, 7, 436 
Bird, artist, 184, 187 
Birkenhead, wreck of the, 476 
Blackstone, Sir William, 13 
Bottgher, J. F., the potter, 

79 ; his early life, 95 ; his 

boyish trick in alchemy, 95; 

his troubles, 96-103 ; makes 

red porcelain, 98 ; makes 

white porcelain, 101 ; his 

death, 103 
Books, inspiration from, 


Borrowing, danger of, 350 
Boulton and Watt, 42 
Bright, John, on frugality, 345 
Brindley, engineer, 9, 386 

4 8i 



Britton, John, his early life, 
difficulties surmounted, 128 

Brotherton, Joseph, M.P., 18, 

Brougham, Lord, 25, 457 

Brown, John, geologist, 179 

Brown, Sir S., 142 

Brunei, Sir I., a thoughtful 
observer, 142-3 

Buffon, Comte de, as student, 


Burney, Dr., 154 

Burns, Robert, in boyhood, 
418 ; his improvidence, 
348 ; on worth, 349 

Burritt, Elihu, 154, 373 

Business men, 310-14 

Business qualities of great 
men, 325-34 

Buxton, Sir Powell, philan- 
thropist, 306-9 ; on will, 
268-9, 306. 377 ; on 
mother's influence, 425 ; 
on good company, 433, 
437 ; his cheerfulness, 440 

, fallacy of, 4 

Callcott, Sir A., 185 

Callot, Jacques, artist, 192-3 

Campbell, Lord, 13, 256 

Canning, on character, 450 

Carey, William, missionary, 
10, 117, 283 

Carlyle, Thomas, his de- 
stroyed MS., 1 20 

Cavendish, philosopher, 23 

Cecil, on method, 320 

Cellini, Benvenuto, his origin, 
194 ; his career, 194-5 > 
statue of Perseus, 196-8 

Chalmers, Rev. Dr., on hon- 
esty. 337 ; in boyhood, 418 

Chambers, William, pub- 
lisher, 407 

Chantrey, Sir Francis, 12, 
184 ; character and works, 

Character is power, 385, 449, 

Charteris, Colonel, 454 

Chatterton, poet, 376, 418 

Chaucer, Geof., as a man of 
business, 312 

Cheerfulness, 116, 440 

Cheeryble Brothers, 465 

Chisholm, Mrs., on work and 
success, 429 

Civility and kindness, 461 

Clarke, Adam, 376 

Clarkson, Thomas, philan- 
thropist, 303-4 ; his im- 
mense labours, 304-5 

Clay, Henry, orator, 404 

Clergymen's sons, 13 

Clive, Robert, 419 

Clyde, Lord, 254, 271 

Cobbett, William, author, 408 

Cobden, Richard, 17 ; on 
thrift, 344 

Cockburn, Lord, on character, 


Coleridge, S. T., poet, 13, 396 
Collingwood, Lord, on honest 
poverty, 367 ; on mean 
company, 433 ; on char- 
acter, 459 
Columbus, a careful observer, 


Comic literature, 391 
Constant, Benjamin, 394 
Courageous working, 265 
Cromwell, Oliver, on integrity 


Cuneiform inscriptions, 121 
Curran, J. P., 405 
Cuvier, Baron, 151-2, 165 


DAGUESSEAU, Chancellor of 
France, 154, 437 



D'Alembert, 12, 404 
Dalton, John, 113, 153 
Dargan, William, on inde- 
pendence, 5 

Darwin, Dr., author, 154 
Davy, Sir H., 12, 14, 149-50, 
399, 422 ; on Coleridge, 
151; in boyhood, 420 
Deal boatmen, intrepidity of, 


Decision, 380 

Details, importance of, 352 
Dick, Robert, geologist, 180 
Difficulty, uses of, 400-6 
Diligence indispensable, 21 
Discoveries not accidental, 


Dishonest gains, 337-8 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 24, 27 ; 

on Cobden's influence, 426 
Douglas, anecdote of the, 


Drake, Sir F., Admiral, 13 ; 
character of, 479 

Drew, Samuel, shoemaker and 
metaphysician, 1 30 ; his 
origin, 1 30 ; his career, 
131-2; his studies, 132-3; 
his writings, 135 ; on fru- 
gality, 344-5. 377, 437 

Drinking, vice of, 357 

Dunces, illustrious, 306, 373, 

ECONOMY and independence, 


Edgeworth, Mr., 35, 432 
Edwardes, Colonel, 13, 278 
Edwards, Thomas, Banff, 


Eldon, Lord, his career, 257 
Erskine, Lord, his notes, 156 ; 

on conduct, 453 
Etruscan pottery, 79 

Etty, William, 183 ; as a 

worker, 217 
Example, power of, 423-4, 

429, 435 

FARADAY, Professor, 12, 150 
Ferguson, astronomer, 147, 


Fitzgerald, Lord Edward, 468 

Flaxman, John, sculptor, 108, 
183 ; his life and works, 
204-5 5 his wife, 208 ; his 
' Anatomical Studies, 1 228 

Foley Peerage, the founder 
of, 241 

Foster, John, 10, 112 

Fox, C. J., 19 ; his pains- 
taking, 319, 398 

Francis, Emperor, 472 

Franklin, Benjamin, and elec- 
tricity, 144, 437 ; his in- 
tegrity, 452 

Franklin, Sir John, his tender- 
ness, 473 

French generals risen from 
the ranks, 16 

Fuller, Andrew, 376 

GAINSBOROUGH, painter, 183, 

Galileo's observing faculty, 


Galvani and electricity, 144 
Genius, definition of, 112, 


Genteel life, 354 
Gentleman, the true, 449, 

467, 473 
Gentleness, influence of, 460, 

Geology, discoveries in, 171- 




Gesner, naturalist, 14 
" Getting on," 388 
Gibson, John, artist, 9, 222 
Gifford, Wm., 10, 147 
Good, Dr. Mason, 153 
Government and individual 

action, 2-3 
Grant, Ulysses, in boyhood, 

Grant, William and Charles, 


Grote, Mr., historian, 313 
Guthrie, Rev. Dr., and John 

Pounds, 430 


HABITS, importance of good, 


Hale, Sir Matthew, as a stu- 
dent, 155 

Hall, Dr. Marshall, his dis- 
coveries, 167 
Handel, musician, 434-5 
Hanway, Jonas, philanthro- 
pist, 288-93 

Hardinge, Lord, 13, 254 
Harvey, and the circulation 

of the blood, 162 
Hastings, Warren, 13, 271-2 
Hawkswood, Sir John, 10 
Haydn, musician, 14, 434 
Hay don, on debt, 351-2 
Hazlitt, on business, 310 
Health of great men, 374-6 
Heathcoat, John, M.P., in- 
ventor of bobbin-net ma- 
chine, 50, 56-65 
Heilmann, Joshua, invention 
of the combing machine, 
and its value, 74-8 
Heroism, true, 474-7 
Herschell, astronomer, n ; 

his discoveries, 168 
Hobson, Admiral, 10 
Hoche, General, 16 

Hodson of Hodson's Horse, 
279, 441 ; on health, 372 

Hogarth, Wm., painter, 187-8 

Home influence, 424 
! Honesty the best policy, 333- 

Honour, the gentleman's 
sense of, 468 

Hook, Rev. Dr., on work, 116 

Hope a helper, 117, 440 

Horner, Francis, his father's 
advice, 348 ; on good com- 
pany, 433, 451 
j Howard, John, 287, 420 

Humbert, General, 16 

Hume, Joseph, his work and 
perseverance, 136 ; on high 
living, 353 

Hunter, John, anatomist, 9, 
14, 113-4; his patient 
industry, early life, and 
career, 156-8, 386, 398 

Hunter, William, anatomist, 


IMMORTALITY in this world, 


Impatience, 380-1 
Independence, how secured, 


India, Englishmen in, 475 
Indian rebellion, 275-7 
Indian swordsman, 274 
Individualism and freedom, 

1-4 ; its influence, 7 
Industry, results of, 113 ; 

industry and success, 183-5; 

industry and the peerage,. 

238 ; industry honourable, 


Integrity, importance of, 452 
Inventors, benefits to society, 


Irving, Washington, on de- 
serts, 318-9 



JACKSON, Stonewall, in boy- 
hood, 419 

Jackson, Wm., self-taught 
musician, 233-7 

Jackson, W., Birkenhead, 20 

Jacquard, inventor, 65-9 

Jenner, Dr., discoverer of 
vaccination, 163 

Jerrold, Douglas, on comic 
literature, 391 

Jervis, Admiral, on debt, 


Johnson, Andrew, President 
of the United States, 1 1 

Johnson, Dr., on observation, 
141 ; on genius, 146 ; on 
impatience, 380 ; on look- 
ing at the bright side, 459 

Jones, Inigo, 9, 183 

Jonson, Ben, 9 


KEMP, George, architect, 219 

Kepler, 12, 112 

Knowledge and goodness, 383 

LABOUR a blessing, 33 

Labourers' sons, distin- 
guished, 9 

Lammenais" opinion on will, 

Langdale, Lord, 259-61 ; on 
mother's influence, 426-7 

Lansdowne, Marquis of, on 
Malesherbes, 433 

Lansdowne peerage, the, 250 

Late learners, 416 

Lawrences, the, in India, 277 

Layard, Austen, his persever- 
ance, 13, 122 

Learning and wisdom, 385 

Lee, Professor, linguist, 9, 
147 ; his perseverance, 413 

Lee, Rev. Wm., inventor of 

stocking-loom, 50-5 
Ley den, John, his persever- 
ance, 411-2 
Lindsay, W. S., 19 
Linnaeus, naturalist, 312 
Literary culture, 384 
Livingstone, Dr., missionary, 

10, 284-7 

Locke, John, on debt, 352 
Loom, the Jacquard, 72 
Lorraine, Claude, painter, 

Loudon, landscape-gardener, 


Loyola, Ignatius, 378, 438 
Luddites, the, machine- 
breakers, 62 

Lyndhurst, Lord, defence of 
Heathcoat's patent, 60 ; 
on difficulty, 403 
Lyons silk industry, 73 
Lytton, Sir E. Bulwer, 26 


MALESHERBES, M. de, 433 
Malthus, D., on exercise, 371-2 
Manners, their influence, 461-2 
Mansfield, Lord, lawyer, 255, 

Martin, John, artist, 184, 


Massena, Marshal, 17 
Mather, Cotton, his essays, 

Melbourne, Lord, and Moore's 

son, 314 

Mendelssohn on criticism, 399 
Method, 320 
Meyerbeer, musician, 233 
Mill, John Stuart, 4, 313 
Miller, Hugh, geologist, his 

origin, 22 ; on work as a 

teacher, 33, 177, 240, 264 ; 

on drink, 356 



Milton, John, 13 ; a man of 

business, 312 

Misfortune and stupidity, 317 
Models of character, 434 
Money, its use and abuse, 

341 ; making and saving, 

Montalembert on the Indian 

rebellion, 277 
Moreau, General, greatest in 

defeat, 399 

Mother's influence, 426 
Motte, La, anecdote of, 477 
Mulready, artist, 189 
Murat, Marshal, 17 
Murchison, Sir Roderick, 180 
Murray, Professor Alexander, 

Musicians, industry of, 232 


NAPIER, Sir Charles, 273 ; on 
debt, 354-5 ; on rectitude, 

Napoleon and Jacquard, 72 ; 
his character, and on will, 
269 ; as a business man, 
attentive to details, 325-8 ; 
as a boy, 419 

Navvies, anecdote of two 
English, 472 

Negroes and Granville Sharp, 

Nelson, Admiral, 13 ; his 
punctuality, 323 

Newton, Sir I., sayings of, 
112, 119, 140, 146; his 
labour, 155 ; as a man of 
business, 313, 373; a dull 
boy, 417 

Ney, Marshal, 17 ; generous 
conduct, 474 

Nicoll, Robert, poet, 397 

Northcote, painter, 183, 435 

Note-making, 155-6 

OBSERVATION, intelligent, 141, 

151. 175 

Opie, painter, 9, 146, 183 
Order, importance of, 151 
Owen, Richard, naturalist, 14, 


PALISSY, the potter, 79, 81-95 
Pare, Ambrose, surgeon, 158- 


Parental example, 425 
Patient labour, its results, 5, 

112, 116, 123, 404 
Paton, Noel, artist, 223 
Peasant, a noble, 470 
Peel family, the, 44, 50 
Peel, Sir Robert, statesman, 
his cultivation of memory, 
115 ; his truthfulness, 455 
Peerages founded by trades- 
men, 240 ; by lawyers, 255 
Pergaeus and conic sections, 


Perseverance, its value and 

results, 83-92, 113, 118-26, 

136, 152, 261, 318, 411-5 ; 

commands success, 421 

Perrier, Fran$ois, artist, 192 

- Perseus,' casting of, 196-8 

Petty, Sir William, and the 

Lansdowne peerage, 250 
Phipps, William, founder of 
the Normanby peerage, 

Physical health and educa- 
tion, 372 

Pleasure, pursuit of, 393 
Politeness, 461-4 
Pope, Alexander, 13, 429 
Porcelain, invention of, 98 
Potters, illustrious, 79 
Pottery manufacture, 109, 206 
Pounds, John, and Ragged 
Schools, 430 



Poussin, Nicolas, artist, 140, 


Priestley, Dr., 148 
Promptitude, importance of, 

321, 380, 447 
Pugin, architect, 218 
Punctuality, importance of, 

126, 323 
Purpose, force of, 263 


RAMUS, Pierre, 1 5 
Randon, Marshal, 18 
Rawlinson, Sir Henry, his 

perseverance, 121 
Reading to bad purpose, 382 
Rectitude of the gentleman, 


Respectability, true, 366 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 13, 

183-6, 208, 377, 403 
Ricardo, David, 313 
Riches and worth a tempta- 
tion to ease, 23, 365, 368 
Robbia, Lucca della, sculptor, 

Robertson of Brighton, on 

reading, 382 ; on kindness, 

Robinson, Judge, and Curran, 

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 25, 410, 


Rosa, Salvator, 183 

Ross, Dr., on intent men, 377 

Rosse, Lord, 23 

Russell, Earl, 24 ; on char- 
acter, 450-1 

ST. VINCENT, Lord, 254 
Saxony, Elector of, and Bott- 

gher, 96 

Scheffer, Ary, artist, 202-4 
Scott, John (Lord Eldon), 257 

Scott, Sir Walter, 13; a 
patient worker, 125-7, J 48, 
313 ; on self-education, 369 ; 
his athletic sports, 375 ; his 
boyhood, 418 

Self-culture, 369-70, 389 

Self-denial, 343, 479 

Self-help, spirit of, 1-6 

Self-respect, 387 

Shakespeare, 9, 312 

Sharp, Granville, philanthro- 
pist, 294-304 ; a cheerful 
man, 440 ; on character, 455 

Sharpies, James, artist and 
blacksmith, 224-31 

Sheridan, H. B., 418 

Shovel, Sir Cloudesley, 10, 1 1 

Sinclair, Sir John, his public 
usefulness, his energy, his 
works, 442-48 

Slaves in England, 297 

Smeaton, James, engineer, 

I3 3S 373 
Smith, Dr. Pye, 156 
Smith, William, geologist, his 

knowledge, 170-7 
Soult, Marshal, risen from 

the ranks, 17 ; loot in 

Spain, 333 
Southey, Robert, 13 ; on 

abused powers, 391 ; his 

industry, 396 
Spencer, poet, as man of 

business, 312 
Spinoza, 312 

Steam-engine, invention of, 35 
Stephen of Colonna, saying 

of, 453 

Stephenson, George, 11 ; per- 
severance, 1 20, 153, 373, 

386 ; his play, 420 
Sterling, J., 442 
Stone, Edmund, 148, 377 
Stothard, painter, 147 
Stowell, Lord, 257 
Strutts of Derby, 43, 252 



Sugden, Sir E., 255 
Suwarrow on will, 269-70 
Sydenham, saying of, 433 

TAGLIONI, labours of, 115 
Tailors, distinguished, 10 
Taylor, Jeremy, 8 ; on idle- 
ness, 372 

Tempters of youth, 356-7 
Tenterden, Lord, 8, 256-7 
Thierry, Augustin, his noble 

character, 395 
Thrift, 343-6 
Thornburn, R., artist, 222 
Thoroughness, 378 
Time, value of, 154, 321, 324 
Titian, his industry, 185 
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 29-30 
Tools, education in use of, 

Trifles, attention to, 140, 143, 

318, 325, 425 
Truthfulness, 455 
Turner, artist, 8, 183, 190-1 

VAUCANSON, inventor, 69-71 
Vauquelin, chemist, 15 
Vicissitudes of families, 239 
Victor, Marshal, 17 
Vincent, Earl St., on debt, 


WALKER, author of { Ori- 
ginal,' on will, 265 
Washington, George, 399 
Watt, James, 1 1 , 3 5-8 ; his per- 
severance,"! 21 ; a thought- 
ful observer, 142 ; 373 
Weavers' sons, illustrious, 10 
Wedgwood, Josiah, 79 ; char- 

acter and reputation, 103- 

10, 207 
Wellesley, Marquis of, his 

rectitude, 469 
Wellington, Duke of, 254, 

270, 400 ; a business man, 

his honesty, 325, 328-34 ; 

on accounts, 352 ; as a 

boy, 419 ; on Sir R. Peel, 

455 ; his rectitude, 468 
West, Benjamin, painter, 147, 

183, 186 
Wilkie, Sir David, 13, 147, 

183 ; his industry, 214 
Will, power of, 266-70 
Williams, John, missionary, 


Wilson, Professor, 13, 375 
Wilson, Richard, artist, 13, 

183, 186 
Wisdom, 385 
Wolff, Dr., inspired by Xavier, 


Wollaston, Dr., 13, 146 
Worcester, Marquis of, and 

steam-power, 23, 145 
Wordsworth, Wm., poet, 13; 

on self-reliance, 28, 313 
Work, a necessity, 123, 216, 


Wright, Captain, 9ist High- 
landers, 477 

Wright, Thomas, philan- 
thropist, 360, 368 


XAVIER, Francis, missionary, 

YATES, PEEL & Co., 46-50 
Young, Dr., philosopher, 13, 
118, 141 

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